What are consumer’s ethical buying habits and why do we behave the way we do when it comes to shopping sustainably? Are we making the same efforts when looking for beauty and care products?
weDo/ is an eco-ethical, vegan hair care brand with sustainability at its heart. As a brand we are on a mission to help consumers transition into living a happier, healthier and more ethical lifestyle. Our products are all Vegan Society and Cruelty-Free International certified, and made with naturally derived ingredients that are kinder to your skin, hair and to the environment.
Our packaging is made with 94% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable, and we are proud to partner with Plastic Bank to help fight against the global plastic crisis.
With this vision, we were keen to gain a better understanding about why consumers make certain choices when shopping with sustainability in mind. So, we sat down with Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, Consumer Psychologist at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, so she could tell us everything we need to know about what goes on inside the minds of sustainable shoppers.
Are consumers increasingly becoming more sustainable?
“Across the board in all product categories, we as consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable and cruelty-free goods because there is a real trend around this topic. We’ve seen an increase in awareness within the last 10 years, and this in turn has really influenced shoppers.”
In a survey weDo/ conducted, it was found that 57% of adults consider themselves to be a sustainable and ethical shopper, with 62% claiming that this has become even more important to them in the last five years.
“Because of the increase in awareness of sustainable and animal friendly products, it’s really important for organisations today to meet ethical criteria and meet the demands of its shoppers. There’s an increasing demand for cruelty-free products, and if an organisation doesn’t meet that demand, their customers might go somewhere else. Sustainable products are what a lot of us want to see more of on the shelves.”
Why are we making more efforts to shop sustainably for certain products, rather than others, like beauty?
Are sustainably sourced goods less effective that non-sustainable products?
“A common misconception a lot of us have is that sustainably produced goods or animal friendly products are of a poorer quality or not as efficient that regular products. As a result, many of us often end up buying a less sustainable alternative, when potentially we could have bought a really great sustainable product that is equally as efficient.”
Sustainable products today are often of a higher quality with more robust regulation for manufacturing and better independent accreditation. In the beauty industry, the two most highly accredited professional labels are: the internationally approved cruelty-free Leaping Bunny logo and Vegan Society certification. weDo/’s award winning products are certified by both of these organisations, playing a vital part in our commitment to being an ethical hair care brand. weDo/ was also developed in partnership with hair professionals, resulting in products that perform to the highest standard.
How much attention are shoppers paying to labels and certifications?
“On average, shoppers spend 16 seconds on a product that they are purchasing. This means that we don’t have time to read each packet in detail that we are picking out. If a label isn’t easily recognisable as being sustainable or animal friendly, then any ethical factors could be overlooked.
Around 55% of people don’t usually check the eco credentials of beauty products because they feel they have no choice but to buy items which aren’t sustainable and animal friendly. A lot of people don’t know what they’re looking for when it comes to labels, especially in the beauty industry, and the communication is often unclear.”
Our survey found that only 36% of people say they are able to recognise a cruelty-free symbol and 38% are able to recognise if a product is vegan. This is much lower compared to the recognition of the recyclable logo at 64%.
How can we reduce packaging when shopping for beauty products?
“Shampoo bars can be really great from an environmental point of view but also have loads of other benefits. Not only have we got rid of any plastic packaging, but they are also great for water conservation as well.
Black plastic is another thing you should look out for. Although black plastic can be recycled, waste sorting systems at recycling plants can’t recognise black pigments. This is the most common problem at British plants, and even if black plastic is separated, it still often ends up in landfill. It’s therefore best to avoid using it altogether.”
Part of Our Commitment at weDo/ involves helping to fight the global plastic crisis in partnership with Plastic Bank. The partnership ensures that for every weDo/ product bought, eight plastic bottles are collected from the environment. weDo/ believes that by making these small commitments as a brand, we can help to make a big difference to our earth and our oceans.
Does price have an influence on decision making?
“Price is often a significant factor during the decision-making process, and can be a stronger influence on the consumer if the sustainable labelling is not clear: It’s not always clear to shoppers that products are sustainable. We tend to shop subconsciously sometimes where we’re driven by the price of a product, and this often overpowers other decision-making factors such as sustainability, especially if the labels aren’t easy to recognise.”
In line with this, our survey found that people would be willing to pay up to 19% more for a product that was clearly labelled as cruelty-free. This suggests that clear accreditations are key for a shopper during the decision-making process if we were to consider buying sustainably.
Why are the younger generation leading the way in shopping sustainably?
“Generation Z show a real interest in purchasing sustainably produced goods and have a stronger level of awareness of animal friendly products than older generations. Around 70% of 25–34-year-olds consider themselves to be sustainable shopper compared to just 48% of pensioners. The reason for this could be because the younger generation are better educated about sustainability and the environment. They are also part of the digital age where environmental movements and trends are communicated rapidly through social media.”
What does the beauty industry have to do in order to ‘convert’ the older generations?
“If the beauty industry wants to try to close this generation gap and convert older shoppers who might be more reluctant to purchase sustainably, they need to engage with them a more traditional way. They should also try to communicate with more science-based facts, to demonstrate that there is very little difference in the product they’re currently using, compared to a more sustainable alternative.”
Learn more about Our Brand and discover more about how to follow and eco-ethical lifestyle by reading the articles on our weBlog.
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