Is Market Research the key to understanding and targeting ethical consumers?

April 2024, by Ben Davis

Given our intersectoral position as a market research agency, we have an opportunity and responsibility to ensure consumer trends in sustainability are front of mind for our clients. As a B Corp, we are committed to using business as a force for good, and with that, we recognise the pivotal role that market research plays in nurturing sustainability within businesses alongside the power that insights have to ensure businesses stay present and appeal to the eco-conscious consumer of today. From spotting consumer trends and driving eco-friendly innovation to gauge the impact of green marketing and advertising, market research stands in a crucial position to ensure businesses ESG strategies are well planned and being actioned effectively.

Spotting consumer trends to help drive innovation

In recent years, we have witnessed a noticeable shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainability, as discussed in our Veganuary article here. Today’s shoppers are increasingly mindful of the environmental and social ramifications of their purchasing decisions, and it has been clear for years that placing a premium on sustainability, ethical sourcing, and corporate responsibility has become a driving factor in influencing consumers choices. In fact, Co-op has stated in a recent Ethical Consumerism report that ethical consumer spending has hit record levels in the UK, and the total ethical consumer spend – including food, drinksclothing, household products, energy and eco-travel –reached over £100bn in 2021, meaning total ethical spending has risen beyond fourfold in the past 20 years.


Market research can act as a compass, guiding businesses through this evolving landscape of consumer preferences to ensure they can make the most out of these trends and opportunities. Through comprehensive surveys, focus groups, and data analysis, market researchers can uncover invaluable insights into emerging trends in sustainable consumption going forward. Whilst we are already aware of the demand for plant-based alternatives, the preference for eco-friendly packaging, or the embrace of circular economy practices, our innovative tools, such as ThoughtScape™ are decoding the complex narratives of consumers. ThoughtScape™ is a unique approach that harnesses the power of a person’s stream of consciousness and it taps into System 1 thinking, discovering truths which other research cannot spot. Using our in-house AI-powered text analytics to optimise the analysis of the huge numbers of verbatim comment that we collect, we reveal new trends for businesses to target, innovate around and adjust to consumer expectations, which will all soon be revealed in our Say Do Sustainability Study (SDSS). With these trends identified, we intend to follow our clients through the journey to embed sustainability in their businesses and ensure that they are using transparent and effective marketing communications with consumers to demonstrate their commitment to positive change.

Measuring the impact of green marketing and advertising

In today’s cutthroat market, companies are increasingly weaving sustainability into their marketing and advertising strategies. However, it’s crucial these efforts are effective and strike a chord with ethical consumers, ensuring that they are aware of and, importantly, believe in your company’s commitment to drive meaningful change.

Market research provides the means to accurately measure the impact of eco-friendly marketing initiatives. By conducting consumer perception surveys, tracking brand sentiment, and analysing market performance data, businesses can evaluate the effectiveness of their sustainability messaging. Market research also empowers companies to identify areas for improvement and fine-tune their marketing strategies to better align with consumer values.

Moreover, market research enables businesses to communicate their sustainability endeavours authentically and transparently. We found in our own SDSS study different communication styles tend to work for women, and by leveraging consumer insights like these, companies can tailor their messaging to genuinely resonate with their target consumers. Whether it’s highlighting sustainable sourcing practices, carbon-neutral operations, or social impact initiatives, market research helps businesses build trust and credibility with environmentally conscious consumers and can create the evidence needed to attract both customers and investors.

Connecting with the ethical consumer

In an age characterised by heightened awareness of environmental and social issues, ethical consumers wield significant influence in shaping market trends. We found in SDSS that people were more likely to spend on ethical products and consumers prioritise sustainability, fairness, and transparency when making purchasing decisions, compelling businesses to adopt more responsible practices.

Market research acts as a conduit between businesses and ethical consumers, facilitating meaningful dialogue and understanding. The research we do at MM-Eye involves listening to consumer feedback, gathering insights, so businesses can forge stronger connections with ethical consumers. Our research enables companies to showcase their commitment to sustainability in tangible ways, fostering brand loyalty and advocacy among conscious consumers.

To celebrate Earth Month, let’s acknowledge the transformative power of market research in driving sustainability. From uncovering consumer trends driving eco-friendly innovation to measuring the impact of green marketing and advertising, market research empowers businesses to make informed decisions that benefit both the planet and their bottom line. By harnessing insights gleaned from market research, businesses can pave the way for a more sustainable and ethical future.

Contact us or book in an appointment with us in the form below to explore how MM-Eye can bolster your efforts towards navigating the climate conundrum and achieving your sustainability goals.