New research out today from Barclays has uncovered the changing shopping habits of Brits, with two thirds of those under the age of 35 (64%) suggesting they are more likely to buy from brands with a social goal since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The bank and Social Enterprise UK have also revealed that in the wake of this demand from consumers, a record-breaking 12,000 social enterprises were created last year. In the UK, there are currently 100,000 social enterprises and they contribute £60 billon to the UK economy, employing two million people.
In the survey of 2,000 consumers, almost half (47 %) of Brits say they prefer to buy from brands that market clearly how they are reducing their environmental impact, which rises to 59% for people aged 18 – 34. This demographic also suggested that they would pay up to 12% more for a product sold in a social enterprise, higher than those aged 35 – 54 (8%) and people 55+ (6%).
The study suggests social enterprises are becoming an important shopping staple on the High Street, with 44% of those surveyed saying they choose to buy from businesses that give back to the local community, and just over a quarter (26%) preferring to buy from brands that voice support on big social issues such as BlackLivesMatter and LGBTQ+ rights.
And, according to the consumer research undertaken, one in eight Brits (12%) have also considered opening their own social enterprise. Start-up ideas included honey businesses, baby goods retailers, coffee shops and plastic recycling facilities.
To help support the growth of the sector, Barclays is launching a new offering for social businesses which includes opportunities for free mentoring through their partnership with Ethical Angel and loan assessments specifically designed for social business customers, offering even more flexibility when accessing finance.
Peter Holbrook CBE, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “It’s great to see that UK consumers are now more than ever keen to support businesses that have societal and environmental purpose. Our research showed that social enterprises make a huge economic contribution to the economy, with communities increasingly interested in how business ecosystems can better support the planet and people.
“The pandemic has accelerated the shift to a more environmentally and socially conscious society, and it’s key that this is supported by politicians and investors alike. Whether it’s growing their business, hiring new staff, giving more opportunities to minority groups or tackling the climate emergency, social enterprises are leading the way.”
Hannah Bernard, head of business Banking at Barclays, said: “The pandemic has forced us all to revisit our shopping habits, and it’s brilliant to see the support consumers are showing to social businesses across the UK. The resilience and creativity demonstrated by these businesses who do so much good – in spite of challenges wrought by the pandemic – is astonishing.
“Many of the societal and environmental challenges we’re facing are only set to intensify, and we believe social enterprises hold many of the answers. We’re proud to be strengthening our support of these businesses with specialist support and new access to finance, as they continue to do great things in our society.”