Fourth research reveals rise of the ethical consumer

The latest research from Fourth, the leading global software partner for the leisure and hospitality industry, has revealed that nine in ten[1] Brits believe they are ‘ethical consumers’, with a further 67% adamant they would boycott brands lacking an ethical conscience.

The survey, which was conducted across a nationally representative panel of over 1,500 consumers, revealed the drivers behind their change in ethical positioning were: watching shocking media coverage of rubbish floating in the sea (53%); the Government’s 5p carrier bag charge (47%); while 29% listed the BBC documentary, Blue Planet as a catalyst.

The rise of ethical consumers can be seen impacting the wider industry, with statistics showing more than a quarter of all evening meals eaten at home in the UK are now vegan or vegetarian[2]. Furthermore, a recent campaign to ban plastic straws across the restaurant, pub and bar sectors gathered significant traction with consumers and operators – and 90% of those surveyed agreed it’s a positive move.

When asked about waste, 80% of people surveyed said they wanted to reduce it from their lives. Considering statistics from the Waste Reduction Action Programme (WRAP) indicate pubs, restaurants, hotels and quick service restaurants produce 600,000 tonnes of food waste each year, there is a great opportunity for brands to increase efficiency and drive customer advocacy by reducing food waste across their estate.

Simon Bocca, Fourth’s COO, commented, “We are seeing the rise of the ethical consumer, with people becoming increasingly concerned about what they eat and drink, where it comes from, how it was made, and what impact it is having on the environment. This presents big risks for unethical businesses as consumers are clearly willing to boycott brands; but also big rewards for operators with conscientious policies and procedures.

“Cutting down food waste is just one way in which operators can not only make their business ‘greener’ but also help mitigate the well documented cost inflation across the industry. By doing so, they are safeguarding their reputation; saving money through increased efficiency; driving customer advocacy; and most importantly, doing their bit for the future of the planet.

“Due to these factors, we’ve unsurprisingly seen a surge in demand for our Purchase to Pay and Inventory solution. The truth is, our customers who accurately track what they have bought and then thrown away – through over-ordering, over-portioning or insufficient prep planning for example – have got somewhat of a shock at the real cost of waste to the bottom line. In today’s climate of food price inflation and of rightly demanding customers, using tech to simplify waste reduction processes and measure the gains accurately is a quick win, both for the bottom line and for driving customer loyalty.”

[1] Ginger Research, March 2018

[1] Kantar Worldpanel, January 2018