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July 1, 2005

UK: Young adults reluctant to buy ethical products says Datamonitor

Young adults are reluctant to spend money on ethical products and are more motivated by branding than the rest of the population, even though they claim to be the opposite, according to market analysts Datamonitor.

Young adults are reluctant to spend money on ethical products and are more motivated by branding than the rest of the population, even though they claim to be the opposite, according to market analysts Datamonitor.

“Young Adults claim they care about ethical causes, and don’t buy brands to look cool,” says John Band, consumer market analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report, ‘Young Adults’ Lifestyles and Social Trends’.

WOn the contrary they are actually reluctant to spend money on ethical products and are far more motivated by branding than the population as a whole,” he said. “The only area that they seem to be consistent in is going out and making themselves look good.”

Datamonitor’s survey of 3200 consumers across France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US found that there is a huge gap between what young adults do and what they claim to do – and this gap is far greater than it is for the rest of the population in general.

European young adults are 7.5% less likely than people in general to say that it is important to choose brands that match their attitudes and outlook on life yet 5.2% are more likely to have bought particular products to differentiate themselves from others.

However, young adults are also increasingly likely to use brands as a way of impressing and differentiating themselves from other people even though they claim they don’t want to do either.

According to Datamonitor’s survey, when asked if they would be willing to pay extra, European young adults are less likely than the population as a whole to be willing to pay higher prices for ethically-produced goods (14.6% less likely), or for environmentally-friendly energy products (3.6% less likely in Europe).

“There’s a problem in marketing ethical products and services to young people,” said Band. “Most ethical products, although worthy, are rarely particularly cutting-edge or cool.” For example, organic produce is associated strongly with middle-aged, middle-to-high-income consumers, and packaged organic products also tend to be targeted at these specific consumer groups.

“Manufacturers and marketers need to understand that there’s a serious contradiction between what young adults claim to do and what they actually do,” says Band. “The only way to develop and marketing compelling new products is to keep this point in mind throughout the NPD process.”

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