What motivates consumers – ethics or money?

People are becoming more socially conscious in their purchasing decisions, or so they say. Many consumers claim they want to choose more ethical products and minimize their impact on the environment. But what’s the reality? Which counts more, ethics or money?

Today consumer, expect social consciousness from the companies and companies are aware of it. Companies need to act ethically to build trust in their products. Some consumers choose the product or service because it is eco-friendly and might even boycott the products or services and their providers if the company does not operate ethically. In addition, there are laws and regulations that control how businesses’ operate. Thus, companies are forced to become more environmentally and socially conscious, which is good. They get good publicity for doing so and we get healthier environment.

However, consumers aren’t forced to make ethical decisions. Studies have proven that even though a lot of people are talking about ethics in buying they don’t want to make the effort or use the money for this purpose. Especially in economic downturn people will buy the cheapest possible products and it is logical. If you have a tight budget it might be difficult to buy more eco-friendly products as they are often more expensive than “regular” products.

What is then ethically “correct”? Is it when we buy products that are produced close to us? Or is it when we buy fair trade products? Or whether it is organic food?  Information flow on what is “right” and where to find the eco-friendly products has always been confusing and overwhelming. Would people actually buy more eco-friendly products if it were easier to understand the benefits of doing so and where to find the products?

In the end I think that consumers and companies often care more about the money than the environment. Each party wants to see that others are doing the “right thing” but don’t want to put the effort or money for it. It is a good thing that the laws and regulations tighten all the time. Perhaps the following generations of consumers can appreciate nature more than we do. Perhaps the ethical and environmental friendly choices are self-evident to them.

Consumers want to do the “right” choices but sadly it is often money that counts. Companies do the “right thing” if they have to. Most of us do nothing! Make your money count and do the right thing – go green!

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6 Responses to What motivates consumers – ethics or money?

  1. mikkoiku says:

    Money is usually guiding consumers that’s true. Same time many consumers are looking very carefully what food product’s they buy, but when they buy something else they forgot all “greenes” and ethically thinking…

  2. jannemetsala says:

    Good post. I agree, it is often money that counts. Good quality and environmental friendly garments are over two times more expensive than “normal” Low-cost country products. But then again, good quality garments lasts years longer than their cheap counterparts.

  3. marikakontio says:

    Goog points. I think that almost all of us want to be ecological, but in practise we fail. It´s true that there should be more information about the ecological choises and what really is “the green” outcome if I buy the product.

  4. tuoala says:

    I believe that once companies do find the way to e.g. save money by going green, we will see true ecological way of working. For example the packing is already being carefully investigated, because companies have potential to save logistic costs and the same push some green thinking campaign out to the field. I think the trend is positive because in B2B business you already can see buyers asking about recycling, manufacturing etc information from ecological perspective so there is still hope that one day being green actually is advantage that will have positive effect on company business. When all this will be dismounted to consumer markets, time will tell… And yes more precise, neutral and comparable information would be needed to help the individual buyers make green choices.

  5. Sarem Lotfollahi says:

    I think the majority of people want to buy eco-friendly products, but because they are more expensive, everyone can not afford it. In addition, yes stores would sell like about business and green products if they are found more customers.

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