/ Sustainable Beauty

Ethical Buying Habits: An Insight into the Minds of Sustainable Shoppers

by wedo_act


As an eco-ethical beauty brand who are dedicated to the preservation of our environment, weDo/ wanted to gain a deeper understanding about the sustainable shopping habits of our consumers. To do this, we conducted a survey of 2,000 adults in the UK aged 25 and over to ask about their ethical buying process.

We also invited Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, expert in consumer psychology with an interest in sustainability, to join us in our researching process. We asked her to observe and advise on the ethical buying habits of three shoppers and give us an insight on why consumers behave the way that they do. Watch the full video below and discover what we found when shoppers were tasked to do a normal weekly shop.

Sustainable Shopping on the Rise

Our study 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. Sustainable shoppers refuse to buy eggs from cage-reared hens – but don’t often check if their beauty products are cruelty-free because it’s sometimes ‘too difficult’ to understand the packaging.

62% of respondents consider sustainability important.57% think they are a ethical shopper

It was also discovered that a quarter of shoppers are also more likely to look for an accreditation or mark to prove a product’s eco-friendly status. But how does this vary between product categories and is it easier to understand accreditation for some products over others?

Ethical Beauty

When it comes to ethical beauty products, the study found that 55% of respondents don’t usually check the eco credentials of make-up and haircare as they feel they have ‘no choice’ but to buy items which aren’t sustainable and animal friendly.

Having said this, 54% have considered sustainability a more important factor when buying hair, beauty and skincare items in recent years. The desire for more ethical and sustainable items has also been seen as one in four adults switch from using liquid shampoo to a shampoo bar instead. So, what’s seems to be the problem?

55% don’t usually check the credentials of beauty products

Recognising Labels

At weDo/ we believe that for many, being green, sustainable and trying to look after the planet is a big concern – especially when it comes to beauty. However, consumers often feel it’s not always as simple as they would like.

This is reflected in the study, where it shows that 61% of participants struggle to tell if hair and skincare products are ethical from the packaging. This is backed up by only 36% being able to recognise a cruelty-free symbol and 38% recognising if a product is vegan. This is much lower compared to the recognition of the recyclable logo at 64%.

61% of respondent struggle to recognise eco-credentials on beauty packaging

From this we can see consumers have good intentions to buy sustainably but find it easier to do so in some areas rather than others.

For example, it’s easy to see whether the eggs you are buying come from cage reared hens or free range, but it seems many shoppers don’t feel the same way about beauty and haircare products, and you don’t always have the time to stand in the store or trawl online trying to decipher the details on the packaging.

This barrier for many is confirmed, with 49% of all adults wanting brands to make it easier to spot how a product was produced. But is recognition the only issue?

The Sustainable Generation

The study also found that younger adults are leading the way when it comes to ethical shopping. More than two thirds of 25–34-year-olds consider themselves to be sustainable shopper compared to just 48% of pensioners.

40% of young adults refuse to buy shampoo and conditioner not ethically produced

Moreover, 40% of younger adults would refuse to buy shampoo or conditioner which wasn’t ethically and sustainably produced, while only a quarter of 55-64-year-olds said the same.

It also emerged that one in five 25–34-year-olds consider sustainability credentials, such as The Leaping Bunny logo and Vegan Society certification, an important factor when choosing a hair care product compared to just 14% of over 65s.

As a result of this, it wasn’t a surprise to find that 52% of young adults would check the packaging of beauty products to ensure they are produced ethically and sustainably before making a purchase – more than the 38% of over 65s who would do the same.

52% young adults check beauty packaging for sustainable credentials

Every penny counts

For many, price is an important factor during the decision-making process. But, to be sustainable often comes with an increase in price tag. This is reflected in our study where we found that only 28% buy more expensive beauty products to ensure they are cruelty-free.

Having said this, more than half of these would be prepared to pay an average of 19% more for an item which was clearly shown to be cruelty-free, while 31% would part with more cash if it was obvious the item had ethical packaging.

51% would pay more if a beauty item shows that it’s cruelty-free

weDo/ Want to Make Sustainable Shopping Easier

At weDo/, we want to show our consumers that it’s easy to make more sustainable choices with easy-to-understand labelling for product promises, source references, ingredients and recycling schemes.

The study revealed that 44% of participants say it’s a small change they can make to help the environment, while 52% say they’d use one to help reduce plastic waste. This aligns with our brand ethos, where we believe that making a small change can make a big difference. Making the switch from a liquid shampoo to a shampoo bar can feel a little daunting at first, but it’s a small change which can really help your beauty regime to become more sustainable.

1 in 4 use a shampoo bar to reduce plastic and to help the environment

If you need a nudge in the right direction, then check out our guide to shampoo bars for some top tips on how to make the switch.

To gain a better understanding of consumer shopping habits, head over to our Q&A article with Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd where she explains why we behave the way we do and what we should look out for when trying to shop sustainably.


Learn more about Our Story at weDo/ and discover more about how to follow and eco-ethical lifestyle by reading the articles on our weBlog.

Keep in touch with weDo/ by following us on Instagram and Tik Tok for advice on sustainable beauty, tips on how to use our products and overall joy.


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