Consumer power has further created a threat to businesses thereby causing them to implement, transform and operate into a socially responsible business model. Ethical consumerism is contributing to the impact of business operations on a global and local level. The importance of ethical consumerism is being recognized through the implementation of institution, the development of policies and new departments in structural business operations.
Ethical Consumerism aims to establish a more interactive relationship between groups of producers and consumers, forming a greater understanding between the two worlds. The producers need to provide the needs and wants of the consumer in order to be supported for further business development and trade support, when the consumer demands ethically produced products it puts pressure on the producer to adapt to this demand.
Over 20% of consumers have reported having rewarded or punished companies based on social their performance (Morsing & Beckmann, 2006, 14). In the UK alone the sales of ethical products grew by more than 12% in a year when the UK economy grew by only 0.2%. The ethical market is now worth just over £54 billion (Ethical consumer Report, 2013).
The cooperative bank found that despite the economic downturn, sales of ethical goods and services have remained resilient. According to Rob Harrison, a Director at The Ethical Consumer Research Association stated “The Annual Ethical Consumer Markets Reports" have shown significant growth each year since the onset of the recession. This clearly demonstrates that the trend towards ethical buying is not a luxury which consumers choose to drop when the going gets tough, but an important long-term change in the way people are making buying decisions.”
The Eurobarometer survey found that as educational level increases so does the proportion of consumers who act on awareness and actually purchase ethically. Ethical economic conduct may require a voluntary acceptance of self-constraint on opportunism, and further calculations of societal expectations to promote global change and humanity
The Key Note Market Assessment Report (2012) recognizes a young population who participate in ethical consumerism primarily in the food markets for the sales of organic, fair trade and free-range products, this segment has the highest level of penetration among consumers aged between 20 and 24 years.
However, It is arguable that ethical consumer groups are defined by their attitudes and behaviors surrounding ethical issues, not by the standard socio-demographic criteria. Shoppers are highly aware of ethical issues and many are ready to put their money where their morals are, they will seek out information they need to make ethical choices, and feel guilty when they don’t.
Ethical consumerism has already made a lasting impression in the marketplace and contributed to a surge of ethical friendly products on the market. Ethical consumerism has supported businesses to create a niche in the marketplace using a "social business" model, thereby driving the economy to be more ethical responsible. Consumer demand has invoked change in the marketplace and can continue doing so with further advocacy, education and awareness.