Consumers want Social Enterprise Mark

Consumers are crying out for a Fairtrade-style charter mark to help them identify social enterprises, according to a survey by ICM Research.

Three-quarters of more than 1,000 respondents to a survey commissioned by RISE, the South West-based Regional Infrastructure for Social Enterprise, said they prefer to buy from firms that put profits back into the community rather than into the pockets of shareholders.

The research revealed that:

• 81 per cent of respondents believe “a lot of companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more products”

• 86 per cent of respondents perceive some benefits from the Social Enterprise Mark. Respondents particularly associated the Mark with environmental and ethical benefits, and with profit reinvested for people and planet

• 74 per cent of respondents would rather buy from a company that makes decisions based on concern for society and the environment.

RISE, which is running a pilot scheme on the mark in the South West with a view to expanding it on a nationwide basis next year, believes the solution is an easily-recognisable mark or logo awarded to businesses that meet the criteria.

Chief Executive Lucy Findlay commented: “These figures speak for themselves. Consumers want to be able to spend their money responsibly and a Social Enterprise Mark is one way of ensuring their money goes towards tackling social or environmental need.

“People feel strongly about the way profits are invested and want to see a different way of doing business, especially in the light of the recently-reported ‘greedy’ economy.

“Our work in the South West shows the Social Enterprise Mark is capable of changing consumer purchasing behaviour and the survey shows there’s a real demand for it.”

The campaign for a national Social Enterprise Mark is being backed by the Social Enterprise Coalition and by all other regional social enterprise organisations.

Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, commented: “RISE has done great work creating and piloting the Social Enterprise Mark in the South West. 

“The Coalition believes that supporting further development of the Mark will help clarify the common values of social enterprise; communicate those values more widely, and thus raise the profile of social enterprise to key audiences.”


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