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Ethical Consumerism in Business

Many journalists and essay writers bring up the issue of consumerism in modern society, and often it’s all about criticizing it. However, the sample about ethical consumerism below will show you that it’s always possible to find an affirmative approach to virtually any subject.


Ethical consumption (also uses the terms responsible consumption, green consumption) is a type of consumer behavior and consumer activism. This term covers all stages of the life cycle of consumption from purchase to use and disposal of goods. The idea of “ethical” shopping is built on the principles of “vote of dollars.” That is the fact of purchase is an expression of approval of the consumer behavior of the seller. The term “ethical consumption” was popularized by the British magazine “ethical consumer”, which was first published in 1989 (Giesler, M., 2014).

Ethical consumption is a social phenomenon, is a response to growing concern in developed countries with respect to environmental and social problems of the planet. The phenomenon is reflected in the increased interest of buyers to the origin and composition of purchased products or services, environmental and social conditions of production, the social responsibility of the manufacturer, disposing of goods and so on. Ethical consumption is expressed in the deliberate selection of goods and services that were produced, processed and delivered in an ethical manner, that is, with minimal harm to people, their produce, animals and the environment. When there is ethical consumption information on the environmental and social characteristics of the product is able to exercise significant influence over the decision about buying it. Significant impact on the popularity of the phenomenon of ethical consumption has media and modern technology, especially the Internet (Ethical Consumerism Report, 2010). Consumers are sensitive to regularly published in the media about the corporations who have been convicted activists on the use of child labor or environmental pollution. According to Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, three of the most well-known reputation of the scandal were associated with unethical behavior of corporations Nike, Shell and McDonalds. These scandals have been widely publicized in the media, caused a massive boycott of goods produced and forced corporations to change their behavior and strategy development. Dissemination of information on the Internet also contributes to consumer awareness of the ethical properties of purchased goods and services (Grande, C., 2007).


The company Marks & Spencer Committee entitled “How we conduct our business?” is headed by an Executive Director, Sir Stuart Rose. Meetings of the Committee, which is composed of senior managers of the company responsible for the social, environmental and ethical issues, are held monthly. The role of the committee is to exercise leadership, responding to the expectations of stakeholders and the implementation of the plan A – five-year program worth 200 million. Pounds to address a number of global challenges facing the company and the world at large, including (Gray, R, 2006):

  • Climate change
  • Reduce waste
  • sustainable use of natural resources
  • ethical principles of trade
  • Improving the health of the population.

The purpose of the committee is to ensure that the current activities of the company Marks & Spencer social, ethical and environmental standards (The History of Marks and Spencer, 2011). Chairman of the Committee shall annually inform the Board of Directors on the work. Performance of each of the main provisions of the plan A (climate change, waste reduction, natural resource management, business ethics, health) is oversees by at least one member of the committee with the support of the working group. As part of the Committee also functions six working groups are brought to their work of other employees of the company. Questions of the realization of plan A, its budget management and coordination of activities is within the competence of a leader who is responsible for the implementation of the plan A, and reports directly to the Director General. In functional areas for the development of such businesses as food, clothing, household goods, appointed manager responsible for the implementation of the plan A. Objectives Plan A consistent with the objectives set out in the individual production plans for employees. In March 2007, for monitoring at the local level in the network m shops and regional offices Marks & Spencer were assigned 560 of responsible action to implement the Plan A. Sir Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, sure: the image of a socially responsible company, pay attention environmental issues, will help strengthen the reputation of the brand, will contribute to the growth in sales and eventually incurred costs will be repaid.

As it known, the American Institute of Ethisphere of 144 companies named are those that are the most ethical. Among them were several fashion brands: in the first place put the Marks & Spencer, right behind him are H & M, Gap and Levi Strauss. Research Institute Ethisphere promote best practices in corporate governance and ethics. On the band’s website said that the prize is awarded for ‘understanding of the relationship between ethics, reputation and daily interactions with brands. “Companies are evaluated in five main categories: ethics and compliance, reputation, leadership and innovation, governance, corporate citizenship and responsibility in the field of culture. Approach to corporate social responsibility, which is becoming more common, its development projects, taking into account the interests of the local community. Marks & Spencer (M & S) launched a campaign “Look Behind the Label”, which promotes ethical origin of their products and inform consumers about their products and clothing Fairtrade. M & S also launched a fashion line of Fairtrade (Fletcher, A., 2006). Despite the British origin, M & S produces 90% of its apparel and retail products in developing countries. Campaign Look Behind the Label was the result of a study that showed that the vast majority of customers M & S (80%) want to know the origin of the company’s products. “Customers want a fair price, but now more than ever before, they are worried about how and what makes products and clothing,” said the director of Marks & Spencer Stuart Rose (Malkin, B, 2008). “In the campaign Look Behind the Label the first time we talked about how far we go to responsibly produce what we sell. The desire of our customers to be aware of this issue is growing, which is why we decided to talk about what we rely on in our business. ”


The practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethical consumption is the subject of much debate and criticism. Defenders argue that there is a strong business case of CSR, and corporations receive numerous benefits from the fact that work on a broader and more long-term than short-term gains momentary own. Critics argue that CSR leads away from the fundamental economic role of businesses; Some argue that it is nothing like window-dressing; others say that it is an attempt to replace the role of government as a controller of powerful multinational corporations. As it was shown in the paper, Marks & Spencer Company demonstrates activity in this community, creating a community trade network that provides regular fair trade.


Giesler, Markus; Veresiu, Ela. 2014. Creating the Responsible Consumer: Moralistic Governance Regimes and Consumer Subjectivity. Journal of Consumer Research 41 (October): 849-867. doi:10.1086/677842.

Ethical Consumerism Report. Co-operative Bank. Retrieved 2010-09-03.

Grande, Carlos. 2007. Ethical consumption makes mark on branding. Retrieved 2011-12-18.

Rob Gray, Dave Owen and Carol Adams, 2006. Accounting and accountability : changes and challenges in corporate social and environmental reporting

Fletcher, Anthony. 10 March 2006. Marks & Spencer dives into ethical consumer market. Food (Europe)

The History of Marks and Spencer. BBC News. Retrieved 18 April 2011.

Malkin, Bonnie and agencies. 28 February 2008. Marks and Spencer to charge for plastic bags. The Daily Telegraph (online).


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