The results of a survey conducted in July 2008 by one of the leading ethical beauty retailers, The Body Shop, reveal the high significance of the company’s ethical image on the customers’ purchasing choice. In spite of the financial difficulties experienced by the customers during the economic crisis of the time, increasing numbers of clients are starting to base their purchasing decisions purely on ethical considerations. Thus, for example, thirty-four percent of more than 9,600 survey participants seriously consider the ethical profile of a company before making any purchasing choice (Marketwire). An impressive seventy-seven percent of respondents admitted to having increased their ethical awareness within the last five years (Marketwire). As it appears from market studies, a new group of consumers is emerging, rather powerful in their environmental consciousness.
The demands of this consumer group apply not only to the quality and price of goods and services purchased. Especial attention is paid to the transparency of the manufacturing and supplying process, as well as to the honesty of the company. For one thing, fair treatment of suppliers is encouraged, backed up by the idea that not only the retailers but also the producers should benefit from the manufacturing process. For another thing, the eco-conscious customers of the present day pay especial attention to the impacts the production and distribution processes exert on the environment.
As a result, modern companies have to respond to the increased expectations of the customers who expect everyone to benefit from commercial relations: Customers, suppliers, planet, and the business itself (Marketwire). For instance, The Body Shop has launched a Together & Fair Pledge initiative on Facebook, urging their customers to share the information about ethical products and services with their friends and colleagues (Marketwire). In this way, The Body Shop is making use of the communicative power of Internet and the persuasive power of personal recommendations for influencing ethical purchasing decisions and thus making a difference to this world.
The article under discussion is most closely connected to concepts and ideas presented in Chapter 5, “Business Ethics and Social Responsibility” (Collins 101–125). The subject highlighted in the article is the notion of business ethics and the way compliance with ethical principles attracts modern customers and promotes customer satisfaction. On the example of The Body Shop, the article demonstrates how making successful ethical decisions benefits a business and wins the trust and support of its customers (Marketwire). The author of the textbook emphasizes the idea that success in modern business is secured through understanding ethics and resolving ethical dilemmas correctly (Collins 104–105).
According to Collins, an ethical decision is a choice between right and wrong, between acting purely legally and acting on the basis of ethical principles (106). Among the key ethical values, the textbook author names honesty and fairness that should guide an ethical company’s actions in spite of the possible financial disadvantages (Collins 103). These ideas are reflected in the article as well, emphasizing the importance consumers place on the transparency and honesty of manufacturing and supplying process (Marketwire). The ethical standards of the company are set by its leaders, and Collins introduces the notion of ethical leadership to describe the process of constant support and cooperation between leaders and employees of the company in terms of making the right ethical choices and thus creating the corporate ethical code (110). The article illustrates the notion of ethical leadership on the example of the founder of The Body Shop, Dame Anita Roddick, who – being a social and environmental activist herself – introduced her personal ethical values into the company and made it a pioneering “business model of positive social change” that promoted ethical business behavior (Marketwire). The notion of corporate social responsibility introduced in the textbook is widely discussed in the article as well. According to Collins, corporate social responsibility implies a conscientious treatment of the company’s employees, suppliers, customers, and communities it is directly or indirectly involved with (112). The Body Shop, the company presented in the article, demonstrates high levels of social responsibility since it promotes fair payment to its suppliers and disseminates honest information to its customers.
In addition, The Body Shop appears to act within the highest stage of corporate responsibility – the civil stage – since it not only promotes ethical business standards among its employees but also appeals to the world community for fair and honest approach to business (Collins 118).
Ethics is defined as “the ability and willingness to distinguish right from wrong and to know when you are practising one or the other” (Collins 103). Ethics is a term that is applied to business behavior of The Body Shop. Business ethics is defined as “the application of ethical behaviour to a business context” (Collins 103). Business ethics is a term that describes the framework of The Body Shop functioning. Business is defined as “an activity that provides goods or services to consumers for the purpose of making a profit” (Collins 3). The article focuses on the business done by The Body Shop.
Purchase decision is a stage in the buying process that is the result of need recognition, information search, and product evaluation (Collins 214). Purchase decision is discussed in the article as that made on the basis of company’s ethical profile. An ethical organization is characterized by integrity and fairness in treating both its employers and its customers (Collins 103).
In the article, The Body Shop possesses such characteristics. Fair trade is “a way of buying and selling products that makes certain that the original producer receives a fair price” (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). The article emphasizes the principles of fair trade promoted by The Body Shop.
Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 2010. Web.
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Print. Marketwire. “The Body Shop: Eco-Shoppers on the Increase in Canada; Ethics as Important as Price for Increasing Number of Consumers.” Canadian Corporate News 27 Aug. 2008. Gale Group.
Web. 13 Oct. 2010.