LONDON: Ethical consumers can be easily influenced but are also influencers themselves, research from Kantar Media has shown.

The intelligence company created a group of upmarket ethical consumers from its Premier TGI survey of 6,500 adults in Britain with a household income or savings and investments of £50,000+ or who were in the top AB social grades.

This group comprised those who "definitely agree" that it is important that a company acts ethically and also agree that they would be prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products.

Kantar Media argued that this group – 1.7m-strong and representing 11% of all upmarket consumers in Britain – was an attractive and important one for marketers to target, because of their "potent mix" of wealth and strong ethical views.

Writing in Marketing, Alice Dunn, a marketing executive at Kantar Media, said that such consumers were one third more likely to say they are influenced by comments posted online by other internet users.

But at the same time, they were almost equally likely to influence others, especially in relation to restaurants, holidays and new technology.

This meant, suggested Dunn, that ethical consumers had the potential to help brand messages spread virally.

She also argued that it was "crucial" for marketers to have a strategy to reach them. "Ethical values can sometimes be the linchpin in a purchase decision and so must not be overlooked," she said.

This area was the subject of the recent Admap Prize which solicited essays on the topic "Can brands maximise profits and be force for social good?"

The winning entry, from Mike Follett, a student at Imperial College Business School, argued that marrying multiple objectives together three-dimensionally was the route to business success rather than the single goal of profit.

Data sourced from Marketing, Admap; additional content by Warc staff