The apetite for ethical brands that demonstrate authentic, socially-responsible creditials is growing

Recently there has been a noticeable rise in brands claiming to be authentic, ethical and local. The burning question for retailers is, are these socially-responsible businesses answering a genuine consumer need? Or can this be dismissed as just another fad soon to be consigned to the back of the cupboard? Well, the situation does mirror a shift among consumers living healthier, more ethical lives. We want to feel good about the things we buy and will seek out options enabling guilt-free consumption.

Whether that’s buying from farmers’ markets or choosing local business over corporate giants, consumers are sending a message. There’s a fine line between luxury and wastefulness. Where the exotic was once desirable, locally-sourced is now the ultimate badge of honour. Brands and retailers need to take notice.

Authentic to the core

A stand-out example of a brand which places ethics and localism at its core is the Co-op. The brand recently reinstated its ‘clover leaf’ logo to signal a renewed commitment to a proud ethical heritage. Outside retail, at NFU Mutual our own community-focussed values are why we operate from hundreds of local rural branches. These roots in the community also contribute to our customer service success and differentiate us from the online-only competition.

Global market researcher Mintel thinks we’ll see brands react to consumer concerns by offering greater transparency in beauty and household ingredients, and a shift towards those foods promoting local purity credentials.

Deloitte’s consumer tracker report identified wellness and responsibility as the new basis of brand loyalty. They say emotional ties to national brands will likely decline due to our increased focus on personal health, the environment, and social impact.

In its 2016 report, Euromonitor International concludes: Consumers are prioritising locally grown, seasonal food for environmental, thrift, freshness and health reasons. Farmers’ markets epitomise this local trend and are now a global phenomenon.

The future?

The appetite for authentic is growing. Global trend analysts Nielsen surveyed 30,000 people in 60 countries and found 66% of respondents would pay more for sustainable goods – a steady increase on previous years. Many of those willing to pay extra to companies committed to sustainability were consumers under 34 – so called Millennials. Grace Farraj, public development and sustainability expert at Nielsen, concluded: “Brands that establish a reputation for environmental stewardship among today’s youngest consumers have an opportunity to not only grow market share but build loyalty among the power-spending Millennials of tomorrow, too.”