RISE Social Enterprise Mark – Press Release

RISE Social Enterprise Mark – Press Release
Consumers demand new ethical logo

Consumers are crying out for a Fair Trade-style charter mark to help them identify social enterprises, according to new statistics from ICM Research.

Three quarters of the more than 1,000 respondents to the survey said they would prefer to buy from firms who put their profits back into the community rather than into the pockets of shareholders.

The research revealed that:

o       81% of respondents believe that ‘A lot of companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more products’. This is up from, but still broadly consistent with the IPSOS MORI survey in 2007 which asked the same question and received a response of 79%.

o       86% of respondents perceive some benefits from the Social Enterprise Mark. Respondents particularly associated the Social Enterprise Mark with environmental and ethical benefits, and with profit reinvested for people and planet.

o       74% of respondents would rather buy from a company that makes decisions based on concern for society and the environment.

The research also included commissioners who said that:

o       75% of respondents would rather buy from a company that uses most of its profit to benefit society and the environment

o       73.5% of respondents feel positively about products or services which had gained the Social Enterprise Mark.

o       86.8% of respondents would be encouraged to buy a product or service that had gained the Social Enterprise Mark.

The research was carried out for RISE, which believes the solution is an easily-recognisable mark or logo awarded to businesses that meet the criteria.

Lucy Findlay, RISE’s Chief Executive, said: ‘These figures speak for themselves. Consumers want to be able to spend their money responsibly and a Social Enterprise Mark is one way of ensuring their money goes towards tackling social or environmental need.’

RISE, which represents social enterprises in the South West, hopes its regional pilot scheme that has signed up 23 businesses in 15 months will spread nationwide.

Lucy Findlay added: ‘People feel strongly about the way profits are invested and want to see a different way of doing business, especially in the light of the recently-reported ‘greedy’ economy.

‘Our work in the South West shows the Social Enterprise Mark is capable of changing consumer purchasing behaviour and the survey shows there’s a real demand for it.’

The campaign for a national Social Enterprise Mark has been backed by all other regional social enterprise organisations, and by Senscot in Scotland and by national watchdog Consumer Focus.

Lucy Yates, market expert at Consumer Focus, said:

‘It is important to many consumers that businesses behave in a socially and environmentally responsible way. However, as this research shows, people often find it hard to know which companies are really behaving ethically. The Social Enterprise Mark is a mark of trust which helps consumers to make a quick and informed choice on which companies they choose to use.’

In addition, RISE has welcomed the support by the national body for social enterprise, the Social Enterprise Coalition for further development of the Mark.

Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition stated:

‘RISE has done great work creating and piloting the Social Enterprise Mark in the South West. The Coalition believes that supporting further development of the Mark will help to clarify the common values of social enterprise, to communicate those values more widely, and thus raise the profile of social enterprise to key audiences.

Overall, the survey suggests that the Social Enterprise Mark has different sources of influence, which impact on different sections of the population, thereby enabling the Mark to have a positive effect across a wide population.

The survey shows a clear link between commissioners’ desire to reflect a public sector ethos in their purchasing and their interest in the Social Enterprise Mark.