Rise of the Conscious Consumer and what it means for your brand
By Shifa Sarguru, SOCIATE’S Copywriting Intern
Conscious consumers are on the rise, but what does this mean for your business?
Sustainable living in the new normal means more than just decreasing packaging material and reducing your carbon footprint.
“Companies want to be green as long as it makes them profitable; and people feel bad about the state of the planet and feel good about buying apparently eco-conscious products,” says Arun Maini, Tech Reviewer on YouTube.
It’s another reason why so many influencers have hopped on the bandwagon and are now promoting conscious consumerism. The whole purpose of an influencer is to ‘influence’ and their followers are more likely to shift towards becoming a conscious consumer if it’s being promoted by their favourite social celebrity. This makes it extra important for businesses to shift towards more sustainable and ethical business models otherwise, they risk losing customers.
Who are the conscious consumers?
Ethical consumers are different from normal consumers. They feel accountable for their purchase choices.
While a normal consumer makes purchasing decisions based on factors like price and style, the conscious consumer actively seeks out knowledge about the product’s ethical status, regardless of how complex the process is. They are the ones researching brands online, checking if they meet their ethical standards.
Even though millennials and Gen-Z are often seen as the driving force behind the sustainability wave, it’s proven that the older population is more likely to reduce plastic waste. Women are also more likely to stay clear of products tested on animals and reduce their meat consumption.
Conscious consumers also look out for:
Brand Values: The majority of ethical consumers seek brands that match their personal values. This means they would stop buying from a brand if they believe the company’s values are not aligned with their own.
Higher Quality: Ethical consumers aren’t shy about giving feedback to brands about a product’s quality. They are ready to pay a higher price if it ensures that their ethical standards are met.
Social Behavior: Conscious consumers are critical of brand behavior. A Brand has to maintain consistently ethical behaviour online and IRL, including its political and social behaviour.
Why are conscious consumers on the rise?
Research found that the eco-friendly behavior of the older generation was linked to having more free time and fewer commutes in their day-to-day life. It makes sense – the less time people have, the more likely they are to make quick purchasing decisions without much thought to its environmental and ethical implications.
For the younger generation, however, plastic consumption is relatively high because they are always on the go.
Another reason that people adopted an alternative lifestyle such as veganism was to maintain their own physical health.
Research found that people adopted these alternative lifestyles because it gave them a sense of joy, but also because it helped them escape the guilt of meat consumption (something which contributes to our planet’s global warming).
Consumption is Social
Yes, you read that right. Whether you order metal straws from an Instagram Shop or buy a tote bag from a general store – that’s ethical consumption and it’s inherently social.
Consumption is a social activity. What you and your family consume is based on your own faith, ethnic groups, and beliefs.
Barnett C. in his research on Ethical Consumption writes, “Most of us consume, behave and take decisions as members of households, families, social networks and communities.”
No purchase decision is made solely by individuals
We’ve seen it with viral Instagram double-walled cups, webcam cover, metal straws, LED light strips, and much more.
Staying Relevant with Conscious Consumers
As more and more conscious consumers become influential, businesses must make changes to their products by using more sustainable materials, eco-friendly packaging and also consider the afterlife of their products – will it be recycled, reused or decomposed?
If you’re a brand making the shift to sustainability, keep in mind that the journey takes time and effort. No business develops a sustainability model overnight. Start with small actions that will lead you towards becoming a more ethical brand.
Helena Carless, Marketing and Engagement Director, Emirate Nature-WWF comments, “Conscious consumerism is a win for all of us. It’s a win for people, for the planet, and for the business.”
As the market adapts to the conscious consumer, we are hopefully headed towards a future where sustainability is the norm.