Skip to main content

Pandemic has bolstered consumer support for ethical business

News item

Published
12th January 2021
Last updated
20th January 2021
Topic
Research
Image
Group of people stood outside a greengrocers

New survey data released this month reveals that trust in co‑operative businesses is high.

    Nearly two thirds of consumers (59%) say they trust co‑ops, compared to just 35% for PLCs.[1]

    This could translate into sales at a time when major high street giants are folding, as nearly half of UK shoppers (49%) say they are likely to choose a co‑operative business over a conventional business when shopping for goods or services.

    The YouGov online poll findings we have released show that co‑operative businesses that are democratically owned and run by their members, may have an advantage over other types of business.

    This comes at a time when businesses are battling for survival and more and more consumers expect businesses to operate ethically.

    Quote mark
    The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities across the UK. The truth is people are looking for ways to contribute to a fairer economy and support the creation of decent jobs for their friends and neighbours - especially in these testing times.
    – Rose Marley, CEO, Co‑operatives UK

    The poll found the most popular attributes for a business earning trust is being a good employer (76%) and behaving fairly (72%). Nearly two thirds of respondents thought trustworthy businesses passed savings onto customers (64%) and supported the local community (63%). Caring for the environment and sharing profits with its employees/shareholders were also important across all ages at 60% and 59% respectively.

    Co‑ops meet all of these ethical expectations as they are based on a set of shared values and principles, with members having a stake and a say in how the co‑operative is run. From high street retailers to community owned pubs, fan owned football clubs to farmer controlled business, co‑ops are everywhere and together contribute over £38 billion to the UK economy.

    Rose Marley, CEO of Co‑operatives UK said, “high street closures, the Covid‑19 pandemic and continuing uncertainty around Brexit makes this an extraordinarily challenging period for British business."

    “Co‑ops have been a force for good for over 175 years and it appears that consumers appreciate their continued commitment to supporting communities, customers, employees and the environment."

    “The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities across the UK. The truth is people are looking for ways to contribute to a fairer economy and support the creation of decent jobs for their friends and neighbours - especially  in these testing times..” 

    The YouGov survey follows on from a poll released in June that showed that eight out of ten consumers who shopped locally during the coronavirus lockdown intended to continue their new habit once the crisis was over [2]. One in three (30%) said they used local retailers more since the pandemic struck and 80% of them aimed to carry on shopping this way in the future.

    Whilst a report released in October [3] showed the resilience of community ownership, with 92% of businesses that raised funds through community shares (where investors have a say in how the business is run) still operating.

    Data sources

    All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2075 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2‑3 December 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

    1. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is 'I don't trust them at all' and 10 is 'I completely trust them', 59% chose 6 or above for co-op businesses compared to 35% for PLCs.
    2. YouGov Plc. Total sample size 2019 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken on 4-5 June 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
    3. Understanding a Maturing Community Shares Market, Co‑operatives UK, October 2020.

    Top image: The Community Carrot, Dunbar.

    Related content