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Consider the following questions:

  • Do you, as a consumer, feel any responsibility for the purposes to which the companies you patronize put their profits?
  • Do you care about a company’s values, beyond the effect those values have on how the company conducts business?
  • What about its CEO’s values, or the values of its biggest shareholder?

A recent article in Canadian Business asks you the following question: Do those factors enter into your purchasing decisions? Should they? Are you a value-based consumer? Could you be?

There is the ideal world – where consumers ideally take an interest in causes that are endorsed by local and national companies. However, there are considerable hurdles to achieving this:

  1. Financial hurdles: Often time’s companies that endorse green, charitable and fair trade initiatives often raise prices to ensure they still have a margin. Alternatively, often times a company’s profit margin is so small that the 1% of margins that is donated is miniscule. On the other hand, is the symbolic act of supporting such companies significant enough?
  2. Differences in values: What if a company adopts a social cause you don’t support? What if the method they give back through isn’t something you would endorse?
  3. Does it go against our competitive economic principles: By adding biases into the purchasing decision – does this go against the competitive principles that eliminated the racist biases and prejudice that has been eliminated through the growth of our current market environment?

There is much to debate when it comes to value based purchasing and how effective it will be in the mainstream market. Companies need to be careful in their sourcing and production in order to find effective margins and make substantial contributions to the causes they endorse. Consumers need to weigh their values vs. the kind of consumer lifestyle they choose to lead. The market needs to adjust itself to a new more sustainable and fair trade industry.

What are your thoughts on value based consumerism? Stay tuned as we address this issue through our upcoming events!