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Kiwi companies slow to respond to market demand for ethics

Kiwis are increasingly searching Google for ethical products and services, but it’s usually only companies and or industries who are already under pressure that advertise their ethical credentials.

CEO of Insight Online, Kim Voon, said today that only industries under pressure for more transparency around ethical practices, products or services – like fisheries, search engine optimisation and plastics – were likely to engage in digital advertising about what steps they were taking to be more ethical.

“For the fisheries and plastics sectors there are obviously issues around fishing practices and plastic pollution, and those industries will tend to be more vocal about what they are doing – this includes search engine optimisation companies because the industry is riddled with unscrupulous, unqualified people practising what many consider a ‘dark art’.

“Where issues like sustainability impact a company or a sector, being transparent about your ethics, products and services works well.”

Voon said most local companies, however, are still using traditional sales driven advertising messages. It remains an effective strategy.

“However, I think local companies are missing out on an opportunity. We can see that searches for ethical terms, ‘like sustainable fashion’ or ‘sustainable seafood’, are rising. More and more consumers want to buy products and services that are ethical.

“While the number of companies doing socially aware advertising is increasing, it remains low. If consumer trends continue as they are, however, ethics will soon enough become something of a non-negotiable requirement.”

Voon said companies not only need to be considering the triple bottom line in terms of how they do business, they also need to talk about it.

“This applies particularly where trust is becoming an issue. Activists certainly are only going to get more vocal and businesses need to respond or lose out to companies that do.”

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