LONDON: The social and ethical credentials of brands and companies are exerting an increasingly meaningful influence on UK shoppers.

According to a survey of 1,000 adults by 23red, the agency, it is becoming ever more essential for marketers to enhance their standing in this area as a way of driving growth.

Overall, 91% of contributors stated the manner in which businesses approached both customers and the communities where they operate impacted the likelihood of buying their goods or services.

Another 74% expressed an interest in consuming extra information regarding this issue before deciding on a purchase.

Elsewhere, around 60% reported the broader ethical position of a firm helped shape their behaviour.

Similarly, 53% agreed that when they knew "the company donates a percentage of profits to charity and good causes", this played an equally significant role.

More broadly, certain differences emerged between members on the panel based on various demographic criteria.

For example, participants under the age of 30 years old typically afforded "ethical brand values" a higher level of importance than their older counterparts.

Women were also found to place greater stress on matters linked to corporate social responsibility than was the case for men.

"The real challenge for brands is how best to harness the values at the heart of their business as marketing tools, without appearing cynical," Jane Asscher, founder and managing partner of 23red, told Marketing Magazine.

"This isn't about soundbites and tokenistic gestures - it's a paradigm shift."

Additional research conducted by 23red assessed the national press coverage received by major brand owners in relation to such subjects over the opening six months of 2011.

Marks & Spencer, the high-street retailer, and PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, were some of the organisations which performed well in this field.

Britvic, the drinks group, and Unilever, the FMCG company, also enjoyed positive coverage concerning their activity.

Data sourced from Marketing Magazine; additional content by Warc staff