Shoptivism: who are the people opting in and out of certain brands and why?

by Sep 23, 2021

Shelton Stat of the Week

26% of people in America can name a product or brand they have purchased or not purchased because of the environmental or social record of the manufacturer. — Good Company, December 2020-January 2021

If you read our blog or have seen anyone from Shelton Group speak, you already know that people in America are increasingly putting their wallets where their values are, and “telegraphing” is a big piece of the equation. As of our Pulse polling last December–January, 42% of people in this country said, “Buying/using eco-friendly products is an important part of my personal image.”

More importantly, 26% can name (unaided) a brand or product they’ve purchased — or not purchased — because of the environmental or social record of the manufacturer.

These numbers have all been trending in an upward right direction since 2015, so it’s fair to say that “shoptivism” — the act of buying or not buying as an intentional expression of an ethical or moral stand — is real. This begs lots of questions:

  • Who are these people?
  • Are they a demographic your brand or company should care about?
  • If so, what messages and actions will drive favorability with these “Choosers” and “Stoppers”?
  • And what about the people who are so savvy they have lengthy lists of both “good” and “bad” brands? Do they represent your future customers and employees?

On October 7, our VP of Research and Insights Susannah Enkema and I will be hosting a free GreenBiz webinar to answer these questions and more. You can click here to register.

Read on for a sneak peek:

  • The 26% of people in America who can name a brand or product they’ve purchased or not purchased because of the environmental or social record of the manufacturer actually break into three groups: people who choose brands because of their record (Choosers), people who stop buying brands because of their record (Stoppers), and people who do both (Changelings).
  • Interestingly, the Choosers and Stoppers follow long-standing shopping patterns based on life stage. The Choosers tend to be 25–44 with kids — they’re doing a lot of shopping and buying. The Stoppers tend to be older, 65+, so they’re buying less anyway. The Changelings — people both buying and not buying on purpose — are the emerging demographic that brands and companies want to attract: Gen Z.
  • We see that all three groups have some things in common: they’re more likely to be searching for greener products, to believe climate change is real and human-caused, and to feel they have a personal responsibility to change their habits and purchases to do something positive for the environment.
  • But their expectations of companies — the expectations driving their decisions to buy or not buy BECAUSE of a company’s environmental or social record — differ pretty distinctly, and the commitments that resonate differ as well.
  • The opportunity for any company is this: look closely at the profiles of the Choosers, Stoppers and Changelings and map them to your core target audience profiles. Then align your commitments and/or messaging with the group of shoptivists most likely to be prevalent in your target audience.

Those profiles — and their expectations, care-abouts, messaging preferences and where to reach them — will all be revealed on October 7. Please join us and our friend, Joel Makower, for an in-depth presentation and a robust discussion!

News of the Week

Sustainability: the core consideration of tomorrow’s consumer
Mediatel News

Environmental activism is being taught at an earlier and earlier age. In this Mediatel News article, they discuss the impacts of children being taught about the environmental consequences of consumerism at a young age and how marketers will need to adapt their strategies for “conscious consumerism.”
Read more…

Study: Brand activism sways buying behavior, brand impression for 58% of consumers
Marketing Dive

Brand activism not only makes your brand stand out, but a large portion of consumers view it as positive. This Marketing Dive article details a consumer study on brand activism and how those actions shift brands’ public favorability.
Read more…

Good Company

Americans are putting their wallets where their values are. They buy brands (or those brands’ competitors) based not just on corporate behavior, but on how that behavior is perceived.

So how do you protect your bottom line and safeguard your reputation, all while making the world a better place? Well, good works. That’s the simple truth, and as you’ll learn in this report, Shelton Group has the research to back it up.

You’ll also learn how your brand can apply our insights to share your good stories in ways that captivate the public’s passion – so you can gain a market advantage.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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