Do Company Ethics Affect Purchase Decisions? - eMarketer

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Do Company Ethics Affect Purchase Decisions?

More than half of internet users stop buying products from unethical companies

December 10, 2015

Consumers might not reward a company they believe is ethical, but many are likely to punish a company they perceive to be unethical, according to an April 2015 study.

Actions Taken by US Internet Users When They Believe a Company Is Ethical vs. Unethical, April 2015 (% of respondents)

Mintel and Lightspeed GMI surveyed 2,000 US adult internet users. More than half of respondents said they stop buying products when they believe a company is unethical. Over one-third of internet users said they would tell others and 26% of respondents would do neither of those things.

But when it comes to the actions taken when they believe a company is ethical, less than half of internet users said they would buy products from it. In addition, 34% said they would tell others and more than a third said they would do neither.

Frequency with Which a Company's Ethics Influence Their Purchase Decisions According to US Internet Users, April 2015 (% of respondents)

Therefore, even though a company may be perceived as a good one, web users may not end up buying products from them or recommending it to a friend. Yet they are quicker to stop supporting brands they find unethical, and telling others about it.

Overall, Mintel and Lightspeed GMI found that about half of internet users were “sometimes” influenced by a company’s ethics. Other research has suggested that a majority of web users do respond to corporate social responsibility efforts, most commonly by buying products with social or environmental benefits.

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