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Ethics affect UK shopping choices

News, 28 April 2015

LONDON: In a further sign of how ethical issues can influence consumer behaviour, a new survey has revealed that seven out of 10 British adults would consciously shop in favour of a "living wage" accredited retail chain.

This represents a rise of more than 10% in less than 12 months, according to professional services firm KPMG, which polled 4,500 adults and 500 16-17-year-olds.

80% of adults and 60% of 16-17-year-olds have heard about the living wage, the survey found, although the issue is less likely to affect the purchasing behaviour of younger consumers.

About 40% of consumers aged 18 to 24 say they still want cheaper goods irrespective of the pay rates that retailers award their staff.

The UK living wage – an issue that has cross-party support ahead of next week's general election – is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

Living Wage Foundation, the campaign group, has set the rate at £7.85 per hour, rising to £9.15 per hour in London, and it compares with the current legal minimum wage for workers over 21 of £6.50 per hour.

KPMG went on to find that 60% of adult men and 70% of adult women cite employers not paying enough as the reason people are living in poverty in the UK.

Recognising that consumers increasingly demand high ethical standards from brands in the modern world was a central theme put forward by Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, in an interview he gave to Marketing Magazine.

Although he did not refer specifically to the KPMG survey, he did observe that consumers value sustainability and important social issues, such as the gender pay gap, and require brands to address them.

"What I see are citizens increasingly holding businesses and brands to account on issues like climate change and social inequality, and I expect to see this trend only increase," he said.

"So it's becoming a demand, as well as a supply, issue, which is a good thing," he added.

Data sourced from KPMG, Marketing Magazine; additional content by Warc staff