Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, knew from the start that there was potential for doing business “better” — that companies could continue to give people what they want and make a profit while positively changing the way things are done. Her success demonstrated that women in particular cared less about fancy packaging and advertising, and more about what was inside the jar.
Millennials and women are buying differently. And with women’s economic power increasing, we’re seeing an explosion in the movement of ethical consumers. Roddick helped popularize the idea of ethical consumerism — and sold her company for $1.4 billion by doing so.
Nearly 60 percent of Millennials say that a company’s ethics and practices factor into their purchasing decisions, according to Intelligence Group’s Cassandra Report. And MarketELLE’s study on brands says, “Women are more likely than men to be aware of and influenced by questionable company policies. Those policies not only impact their feelings about brands and companies, but often determine who they will (or won’t) do business with.”
Many women will conduct research before shopping. And Millennials are likely to research while they shop — 50 percent of them even use their phones to do so in-store, research has shown.
There are many tools to help consumers with researching ahead of purchases. Beyond the well-known GoodGuide, there’s Think Dirty, which evaluates the toxicity of personal care products. And before those, the Human Rights Campaign’s Buyer’s Guide for Workplace Equality was helping inform consumers by evaluating the LGBT policies of various companies.
As a result of these and other efforts, companies are declaring their practices. There are now certifications that confirm which products were made without hurting bunnies, harming forests or traumatizing whales, and which were produced using Fair Trade principles. Some outfits, such as Apple, are cleaning up their vendors, while clothing companies now hone and post their sweatshop policies.
In realizing the power of “good-vertising,” many companies are also starting to find new ways to communicate their practices, as those that communicate their good messages well will fare better — particularly their bottom lines.
The concept of buying ethically through a gender lens started with the investment community. But there are many more people beyond that sector who think along these lines; some 12 million Millennials already shop ethically, in fact. Add that to the 12 million people overall who support nonprofits advancing women and you’ve got a significant amount of prosperous, ethical consumers who want to know what’s inside the bottle — and are willing to read the label and make the right choice.
Note: This post originally appeared on Catalytic Women. It has been shared with permission from the author.