The Growth of Ethical Consumerism

 

58bddce27db41-image
(Nuvo 2016)

Every day we are faced with hundreds of choices; which brand of milk? What type of face wash? Which bottle of shampoo?

In recent years, these decisions have become less focused on which one performs better, or which one is cheaper. Consumers are starting to base their decisions on which product is better for the environment, or which product isn’t produced in sweat shops (Coles, 2014). We, as consumers are becoming more aware of the choices we make, with the intention to purchase goods that are ethically produced (Coles, 2014).

So, what is ethical consumption? Well, Auger (2006, p. 79) defines this idea as “the conscious and deliberate choice to make certain consumption choices due to personal and moral beliefs”.

the20vegan20society27s20vegan20trademark
(The Vegan Society n.d.)

Increased ethical consumption all comes down to our greater access to information (Ward 2011, p. 400). We have google at the touch of our fingertips. Therefore, when making decisions we can be informed (Ward 2011, p. 400). People aren’t just turning vegan because it’s the trendy thing to do, they are doing it because of a post they read on facebook about animal testing or a video they watched on YouTube about the meat industry (Meager, 2016).

Hence, ethical consumption is rapidly growing. As we become more in touch with the world around us, our awareness of global issues has increased. Companies are now realising the importance of doing the right thing and being corporately responsible because if they aren’t, there is no return (Farrow, 2015). Social media loves a good roast, particularly on companies who fail to be ethical. For example, you may remember seeing people’s comments on facebook about the Volkswagon emissions scandal.

The company installed software on their cars to ‘trick’ the machines that test emissions, in order to maker the cars appear environmentally friendly (BBC 2015). When, in fact, the emissions the cars produced was above the legal limit (BBC 2015). Social media enabled the news of this scandal to be spread like rapid fire. As a result, the company lost roughly $1.58 billion in profits, the first loss the company has experienced in 15 years (BBC 2015). VW have a lot of work to do to try and regain the trust of their customers…

vw3
(Slapwank 2015)

People obviously stopped buying cars from VW because they saw friends posting about it on facebook, or read it in the news, and because societies attitude towards VW changed drastically. Would you want to be seen driving a car that was associated with such outrageous behaviour?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our access to information and how it has become so readily available is changing not only the way consumers shop, but also the way companies sell. Due to our newfound awareness of ethical issues, companies are using ethical practices as a way to increase market share (Farrow, 2015). Thus, not only our access to information has increased, our access to ethical goods has also increased.

asos-logo
(Asos n.d.)

Big name brands such as ASOS, H&M and Timberland have begun producing and including ethical lines (Green, 2011). The spread of ethical consumption or production in clothing retailers has evolved following the aftermath of the Bangladesh tragedy (Kahn, Rodrigues & Balaubramanian, 2016 p. 4).

Also, the introduction of Apps and websites such as Good on You, help consumers make ethical decisions by rating clothing retailers on their ethical practice. This is another example of how our increased access to information has increased ethical consumption.

goy-logo-narrow-correct
(Good On You n.d.)

Studies have shown that consumers are even prepared to pay more provided that their purchase has been produced ethically, bringing even more motivation for companies to do the right thing (Kahn, Rodrigues & Balaubramanian 2016, p. 6).

 

 

References:

Asos, n.d., image, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.asos.com/au/women/?r=1>

Auger, P 2006, ‘Ethical Consumerism: Reality or Myth?’, The Melbourne Review, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 78-83.

BBC 2015, ‘Volkswagen pushed into loss by emissions scandal’, BBC NEWS, 28 October, viewed 2 May 2017 <www.bbc.com/news/business-34650233>.

Coles, H 2014, ‘Are consumers becoming more aware of environmentally sound business?’, Business Green, viewed 2 May 2017 <www.businessgreen.com/bg/sponsored/2364029/are-consumers-becoming-more-aware-of-environmentally-sound-business>.

Farrow, G 2015, ‘The rise of the conscious consumer’, NZ Herald, 6 January, viewed 2 May 2017, <www.nzherald.co.nz/element-magazine/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503340&objectid=11382530>

Good On You, n.d., image, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.goodonyou.eco>

Kahn, Z Rodrigues, G Balaubramanian, S 2016, ‘Ethical consumerism and apparel industry – towards a new factor model’, paper presented at the 33rd International Business Research Conference, University of Wollongong in Dubai, 4-5 January, viewed 2 May 2017, <www.researchgate.net/publication/289976744_ETHICAL_CONSUMERISM_AND_APPAREL_INDUSTRY_-_TOWARDS_A_NEW_FACTOR_MODEL channel=doi&linkId=5693c45208ae820ff0727fbf&showFulltext=true>

Meager, D 2016, ‘This is why millenials are all turning vegan’, Munchies, viewed 2 May 2017, <www.munchies.vice.com/en_uk/article/this-is-why-millennials-are-all-turning-vegan>

Nuvo, 2016, image, viewed 4 May 2017, <www..nuvo.net/news/business/how-ethical-consumption-can-change-corporate-behavior/article_b390ad64-8523-5f7e-af9a-12d55bf8fab7.html>

Slapwank, 2015, image, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.slapwank.com/best-funny-vw-emissions-scandal-memes>

Vegan Society, n.d., image, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.vegansociety.com/take-action/ask-vegan-trademark>

Ward, J de Vreese, C 2011, ‘Political consumerism, young citizens and the internet’, Media, Culture and Society Journal, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 399-413.

Advertisements

Why do Shoppers Trust YouTubers?

Have you ever bought something just because you watched a YouTuber show how ‘great’ it is in a video? Or because you saw a post on Instagram about it?

We all seem to be a bit confused on whether or not we should trust the opinions of these internet strangers, with some people arguing we shouldn’t and others supporting their role in spreading new, innovative products (Moldovan et. al 2016).

Well, I am going to tell you why you should trust the views of opinion leaders such as YouTubers and why you shouldn’t trust the views of celebrity endorsers, like Kimmy K.

Kim k insta.jpeg
(Instagram/Kim Kardashian 2017)

YouTubers are paid to endorse and review products. For many big name YouTubers including the likes of Zoella, Chloe Morello and PewDiePie, YouTube is their job (Berg 2016). They make a living through advertising and promoting products (Berg 2016).

youtubers_by_veronicazoo-d7pw4fb
(VeronicaZoo 2016)

Also, for many YouTubers, not every product they talk about is one they are getting paid to promote.

On the other hand, when a celebrity posts about a product on social media, they are most likely getting paid too (Streib 2009). However, Celebrities don’t make a living out of promoting products, they make a living by singing or acting or whatever it is they are famous for (Streib 2009). Promoting products may just be a way for them to earn money in between gigs.

So, the difference is, YouTubers rely on promoting products to make a living, celebrities don’t.

To explain this further, Lily Pebbles discusses the process of how YouTubers promote products in the following video: (skip to 11:10 to listen)

Lily explains that promoting a product she does not like may be detrimental to her channel. For her, and many others, her channel is a business. If she promotes a product that is dangerous or not to a high quality, her reputation will be damaged. Therefore, it is crucial that she ensures every product she promotes is effective or high quality. It is important for her business that she promotes products that her audience will enjoy.

chgkxo_w8aa31js
(Instagram/Ciara 2017)

Whereas, for celebrities, it is unlikely that their reputation will be tarnished for promoting a dodgy product. I’m sure you have all seen waist trainers being promoted all over Instagram, mainly by celebrities. Even though these products do nothing to slim your waist, celebrities get away with promoting them because their main income and business activity doesn’t revolve around promoting products (Streib 2009). As I said earlier, their purpose is to do whatever it is that got them famous in the first place.

I also mentioned earlier that YouTubers don’t get paid for every single product they promote. It’s also easy to tell when YouTubers have been paid to promote a product, it is regulation for YouTubers to put in the bio, or title of the video when there is a paid advertorial (Sweeney 2014).

So, take beauty leaders such as Lauren Curtis and Zoella, they regularly post ‘Favourite’ videos where they discuss the products that they have enjoyed using recently, most of which they aren’t paid to promote. If they aren’t paid to promote the products what other incentive is there? Well, simply the fact that they generally enjoyed using the product.

maxresdefault
(Zoella 2015)

Numerous studies have shown how monetary incentives can negatively impact the opinions of consumers. If a product has been paid to be promoted by an opinion leader, consumers are less likely to want to buy it (Pongjit, C & Beise-Zee, R 2015 p. 720).  A study by Mengze and Wojnicki (2014 p. 81) concluded that; “Opinion leaders may have developed a reputation of intrinsically motivated referrals… shielding them from the potential loss of social capital associated with extrinsic rewards”.

 

References:

Berg, M 2016, ‘The Highest Paid Youtube Stars 2016: PewDiePie Remains No. 1 With $15 Million’, Forbes, 5 December, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2016/12/05/the-highest-paid-youtube-stars-2016-pewdiepie-remains-no-1-with-15-million/#789c16447713>

Instagram, Kardashian, K 2017, image, viewed 5 May 2017, <www.instagram.com/kimkardashian/>

Instagram, Ciara 2017, image, viewed 5 May 2017, <www.instagram.com/ciara/>

Mengze, S Wojnicki, A 2014, ‘What motivates opinion leaders to make social media network referrals?’, Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 81-91.

Moldovan, S Muller, E Richter, Y Yom-Tov, E 2016, ‘Opinion Leadership in Small Groups’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167811615301695>

Pebbles, L 2017, My Thoughts on Clickbait, online video, 12 April, YouTube, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Cn5c14gd4&t=819s>

Pongjit, C & Beise-Zee, R 2015, ‘The effects of word-of-mouth incentivization on consumer brand attitude’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 24, issue 7, pp. 720 – 735Streib, L 2009, ‘How Celebrities Make Their Millions’, Forbes, 6 March, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.forbes.com/2009/06/03/forbes-100-celebrity-09-earnings-paycheck-millions.html>

Sweeney, M 2014, ‘Vloggers must clearly tell fans when they’re getting paid by advertisers, ASA rules’, The Guardian, 26 November, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.theguardian.com/media/2014/nov/26/vloggers-must-tell-fans-paid-adverts-asa-rules>

VeronicaZoo 2016, image, viewed 5 May 2017, <www.veronicazoo.deviantart.com/art/Youtubers-466752359>

Zoella 2015, image, viewed 5 May 2017,<www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEY2cvkY1Ws&index=13&list=PLwmklcLO2MyCn5576CDwUlr54V-nHZFVG>