United Kingdom / Analyst Insights
Lasting impact: Ethical consumerism and UK industry

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by IBISWorld
Sep 26 2018

To view the articles in this series, please click the links below:

Thoughtful Threads: Ethical Consumerism and Fashion

A Fair Foundation: Health, Beauty, and Environmental Pressures

Falling Fowl: Plastic, Provenance and Waste Prevention

Across a number of industries, ethical consumerism has become more than just a niche concern, and consumer trends have necessitated action at the strategic level. In this upcoming three-part series, IBISWorld will explore the ways in which heightened interest in environmental and ethical responsibility are affecting the fashion, cosmetics and grocery sectors. 

The past year has seen a number of landmark decisions stemming from rising consumer engagement with ethical issues, from food processors vowing to eliminate single-use plastics from their supply chains by 2025, to the exposure, backlash and subsequent cessation of Burberry’s practice of burning unsold clothes. From food to fashion, consumer pressure has increasingly had a demonstrable effect on business practice, and in 2018, the market for ethical products and services in the United Kingdom is estimated to be worth £81.3 billion, according to Ethical Consumer. Whilst in many cases such consumption practices have been considered to be the preserve of the middle class, broader consumer trends could make ethical and environmental awareness a more pressing concern for business over the coming decade. For example, in a recent survey of 2,000 people, Thoughtworks found that 62% were concerned with the need to reduce plastic packaging, outweighing the percentage that expected price to be a main driver of their purchases. As the balance shifts, companies in numerous consumer-facing industries may have to reassess their supply chains and sourcing strategies.