Morrisons drives ethical shopping with a value-for-money price tag

Research can throw up some interesting results which often defy general assumptions made by business and consumers. The latest survey by Responsible Research called ‘Reality Bites’ into food shopping attitudes is a case in point.

The research measured people’s actual purchases against their attitudes. You might expect Waitrose to come out at the top of the Responsibility League Table. The table shows the percentage of purchases made per store that were responsibly motivated in some way.

In actual fact Waitrose comes just below Morrisons. It seems that while Waitrose has been pushing sustainable sourcing, Morrisons ‘buying British’ positioning has resonated with the public. It has also managed to combine its ethical messages with value messages, which analysts say is a wining combination during straitened times.

Sainsbury’s also beats Waitrose coming 4th just below Marks & Spencer and The Co-op with both of these retailers pushing sustainable messages.

Also surprising is the attitude of different shoppers. A quarter of Asda shoppers are most likely to have responsible shopping habits, on par with the shopping habits of Morrisons shoppers. However, Asda shoppers are the least likely to buy responsibly.

The difference between what people say and what people do could be the difference between what people aspire to and what they feel they can reasonably afford. While we might all want to buy the very best sourced organic food, the recession has certainly given many of us a reality check and turned aspirational shoppers into frugal ones.

Asda and Tesco have capitalised on this consumer fear, say analysts by leading with price-led promotions. But those who want to combine frugal buying with ethical values are looking for something a bit more than affordable food.

Morrisons appears to have struck the right balance in consumers’ eyes of selling its responsible food at reasonable prices. It will be interesting to come back to this research when the good times return to see if this is a winning combination in good times and bad.

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