Not all superheroes wear capes… In fact, the people who are really saving the world are arguably just ordinary folk living ordinary lives and buying ordinary things – but insisting the corporations that serve them actually behave well. 

It’s in large part why companies across all industries are focusing on developing and articulating their ESG policies (Environmental, Social and Governance) and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

But given the current cost of living crisis, are people now buying ethically or buying cheaply? And do they expect as much from insurance brands as from other brands? 

According to a recent Viewsbank survey of 1056 consumers, 61% of Brits consider a brand’s ethical practices quite or very important when they make a purchase, and 52% think their environmental, social and governance record is quite or very important, demonstrating which term has consumer cut through. 
Ethics chart 1
Women seemed slightly more concerned about ethics than men, with 25-34 year olds the group who care most – possibly those who can afford to buy ethically and environmentally soundly. The group least likely to consider ethics or the environment were those over 65 –- those least likely to inherit the earth and its problems. 
25% said good ethics definitely improved their trust in a brand, and another 40% said it somewhat improved their trust. 
Purchases of food and clothes are where people are most likely to take ethical or environmental considerations into account before they buy. 32% said they didn’t consider ethics in ANY purchase category -– and only 12% considered ethics before buying insurance. 
Ethics chart 2
Of the 896 people with an insurance policy, 21% said they wanted their insurance company to behave ethically. A further 52% very honestly said they’d want them to behave ethically as long as it didn’t cost them any extra. But more than 1 in 4 (26%) just want their insurance with no bells, whistles, or further bother.  

The age gap was again pronounced. Only 3% of insurance customers aged 18-24 said they just wanted insurance, compared with 34% of those aged 65+ who waived away ESG-friendly policies. 
Ethics chart 3
Ethics chart 4
When asked to rank the kind of initiatives they’d like to see an insurer support, green projects were by far and away the most popular – including things like carbon offsetting, tree planting, net zero targets and the use of green parts for claims. Social initiatives, like waiving excess for damage claims due to domestic violence came next, with charity support and community initiatives consistently ranking lower.
Ethics chart 5
When it came to putting their money where their mouth was, 27% would pay 1-5% more for their policy to ethically or environmentally sound, with 11% stretching to 5-10%. Barely 7% were willing to pay any more. More than half would prefer to pay nothing at all…
Ethics chart 6
Of those who would pay nothing, 31% said they couldn’t afford it, and 33% said they preferred to support causes in their own way. More significantly, 64% felt they shouldn’t have to pay more for insurers to do the right thing – and 22% said they didn’t trust insurers to do what they said they would. 

Of those who would pay, 49% thought it was an easy way to give something to a good cause, and 44% felt it was ‘the right thing to do’. 37% though thought an ethical company was more likely to treat THEM right as a customer. 

Ethics are very clearly linked to trust – and we know that’s something our industry struggles with. The industry may not yet be the frontline for ethical considerations, and it is certainly not as ingrained in consumer-consciousness as buying fair trade coffee or avoiding fast-fashion from sweatshops. But demand is clearly there. Despite the cost of living, a significant number of consumers really do care about what you do and how you do it. And the really good news for insurers and brokers is that 1-in- 4- people would pay more for an ethically, socially or environmentally sound policy. 

Green policies especially seem to be a significant motivational factor for your younger consumers. Articulating their difference can give brands an edge. 

Understand the needs and motivations of your customers

Viewsbank is our in-house consumer research panel. It’s a large, responsive and community driven panel that conducts both quantitative and qualitative research.

Our Viewsbank panel helps our customers with a wide variety of projects ranging from detailed mystery shopping to demographically targeted research surveys. The research helps our clients make informed decisions based on true understanding of the consumer’s voice.

Click here to learn more

Comment . . . 

Submit a comment

You may also like

Rethinking customer vulnerability
Rethinking customer vulnerability
26 January, 2023

When the Consumer Duty goes live in six months’ time, firms will face a new frontier of showing that customers understoo...

Why essentials products are coming of age
Why essentials products are coming of age
19 May, 2022

The cost of living crisis has been hitting the headlines for months – and it could be hitting insurance soon, too.

How brands prepared for GIPP with pricing movements and product tiers
How brands prepared for GIPP with pricing movements and product tiers
27 January, 2022

In the final month of 2021, changes in pricing strategies were already becoming apparent. Before the final curtain fell ...