Today’s Socially Conscious Consumers

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Today’s Socially Conscious Consumers

Studies show that increasing numbers of consumers are taking social issues into account when choosing the businesses they frequent. According to a report from GT Nexus, many consumers would even pay more to buy goods from socially conscious businesses. Fifty-two percent said they would pay more for food and drink produced by sustainable means, forty-five percent would pay more for footwear produced by sustainable means and forty-four percent would pay more for pharmaceuticals produced by ethically sustainable means. Millennials are even more interested in sustainable and socially conscious business practices. In 2014, seventy-two percent of Millennials stated that they would pay more to buy products from socially conscious companies. Clearly, issues of social responsibility as well as environmental sustainability are important to the rising generation of consumers.

This should raise questions for businesses. For example:

  • What does it mean to be a socially responsible business?
  • How can a business balance growth with sustainability?
  • How can a business meaningfully contribute to positive social change?

When it comes to social issues, there are a few main ones that consumers particularly care about. These are animal rights and the humane treatment of animals in the food processing industry, labor rights and environmental sustainability.

Animal Rights

Socially Conscious - inside image -2Many consumers have concerns about the treatment of animals in the food processing industry. On several factory farms, cruelty and abuse to animals are common. Some consumers have embraced vegetarianism due to their concerns over animal welfare. However, it is not necessary to be vegetarian in order to be socially responsible. One socially responsible business practice companies wishing to embrace social responsibility may consider is the practice of raising animals free range. Free range animals are not kept in cages all day and are allowed to engage in natural behaviors. The sale of eggs produced by free range chickens has been rising according to a report by The Guardian newspaper. Consumers have become increasingly sensitive to the issue of animal welfare and this is reflected in their purchasing.

Consumer purchasers are increasingly sensitive to issues of #AnimalRights. #SmallBiz Click To Tweet

Labor Rights

Another socially responsible business practice companies might consider is fair labor practices. Treating employees fairly is a practice that can directly impact a business. Not only is it morally right, it also creates happier employers. A business that pays its workers fairly, treats them well, and ensures a safe working environment is a business that will naturally attract people to come and work for them. In addition, the employees will want to continue to work for them.

Socially Conscious - inside image - 3Consumers have also become more aware of fair labor practices, particularly since several well-publicized disasters in factories that did not ensure the safety of their workers. Consumers do not feel comfortable supporting these businesses. The New York Times reveals that customers in fact paid more for products produced by companies with fair labor practices. Businesses that employ fair labor practices have a competitive advantage over companies that do not and this competitive advantage will increase as consumers become more aware of labor issues.

Environmental Issues

Over the last several years, people have become increasingly concerned about environmental issues. Preserving our resources for future generations is another business practice socially responsible companies can address. The conservation of our resources is a particularly important issue as is preventing pollution of the air and water. This is also an issue that consumers care about. I stated earlier that many consumers would pay more for footwear produced by sustainable means.

What does it mean to be sustainable? Sustainability strives to create a balance between human needs and the environment. Nature is a self-regulating system, but over-exploitation of certain resources can cause environmental damage. For example, some logging companies have overused forests so much that it has led to deforestation. Deforestation can lead to all sorts of negative results including soil erosion and even disease as disease carrying insects are driven from their natural habitat.

Companies can contribute to preserving our environment in numerous ways. The first is through buying from suppliers that use sustainable practices, such as recycling or thinning certain trees to encourage growth. Of course, sustainability varies from industry to industry. One exciting avenue for environmental sustainability is clean coal. While coal has been associated with pollution, clean coal strips impurities from coal which helps to prevent air pollution.

Find ways to balance growth, cost, social justice & sustainability - attract consumers. #CSR Click To Tweet

Corporate Responsibility

Socially Conscious - inside image - 1Businesses play a large role in society. They are also just as dependent upon society as society is on them. As people become increasingly aware of social and environmental issues, businesses will need to adapt to meet the values of a new generation of consumers.

By embracing corporate responsibility and finding ways to balance growth, cost, social justice and sustainability companies can attract new consumers and retain existing clients.


Mobile Apps for Charity (MAFC) helps select nonprofits and charities with their fundraising and creates native mobile applications for them. We help small businesses increase their community visibility, goodwill and positive media exposure.

We provide our nonprofit mobile apps at no cost to the organization. Small businesses become marketing partners of the apps. Marketing partners receive marketing (mobile, social and print). They also receive access to exclusive marketing tools. We help them generate leads by using a socially responsible marketing strategy. Participating small business marketing partners earn a generation of new clients.

For more information, please visit our Small Business Marketing page. For a free marketing consultation with one of our principals, please visit this page.

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About Charles

Charles Alexander Neal is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire’s creative writing program. He is a novelist, short story writer and locally produced playwright. He also plays the flute and performed with the Cape Fear Community College orchestra.

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