The market for "ethical" consumer products and services in Europe is growing at a rate of 14 percent a year, according to a December 7, 2005 report published by Datamonitor. An announcement appeared in Energy Business Review (London).
Exactly what "ethical" products and services are is somewhat vague at the present time. There is also a consensus among researchers that market research in this very broad category tends to overstate market potential.
This may be due to the fact that some of the studies on "ethical" products and services reveal that a significant number of consumers responding to surveys say their own beliefs are in accord with the values and morality behind "ethical" products and services. But these beliefs don't necessarily translate into purchases.
The same bias could find its way into study design, where results are skewed by socially acceptable statements when respondents are asked to agree or disagree.
Nonetheless, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the European market is large and growing and does represent a quantifiable trend.
For example, a report sponsored by the Cooperative Bank (UK) and announced in The Independent (London) on December 12, 2005, said that during 2004 UK consumers spent US$44-billion on ethical goods and services. This was an increase of 15 percent when compared with sales in 2003.
The Independent said further that...