Shopping with a social conscience

Retailers and manufacturers targeting Gen X and Y shoppers this holiday season should introduce more transparency into their product labels and identify fair trade, conflict-free and environmentally friendly practices.

Results of a new survey by KPMG LLP reveal that nearly 70% of consumers younger than age 30 consider social issues such as sustainability, human rights and fair trade before making a purchase. This outpaces the fewer than 50% of consumers overall who feel the same way.

The survey reveals that young consumers focused more on social issues when considering big-ticket purchases such as automobiles, computers, consumer electronics and jewelry versus everyday items such as gasoline, toys and food. Thirty-four percent of consumers younger than 30 always or frequently consider social issues when buying everyday goods, compared to 41% when buying big ticket items.

“Many regulations are accelerating trends that would take place anyway,” said Jim Low, audit partner, KPMG LLP. “Retailers are increasingly asking their suppliers to assess their environmental and social sustainability. Several of the leading retail and grocery chains have recently introduced ranking systems to help consumers identify sustainable products. Consumers and investors continue to increase pressure on companies to adopt more sustainable practices.”