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Brand SustainabilityMay 10, 2021

Brands Embrace Good Causes – Do Consumers Really Care?

May 10, 2021
Marilyn Wilkinson Prof Pic
Marilyn Wilkinson
Digital Marketing Expert

Don’t buy from us, support a small business instead. That’s the message of Cadbury’s latest campaign - something relatively unheard of in marketing. Big brands are embracing worthy causes to position themselves as sustainable, ethical choices. But do consumers really care where their products come from and how ethical the brands behind them are?

The Rise in Ethical Purchasing

Only a few years ago, sustainable sourcing was a fairly niche trend, and talk of supporting the planet and small businesses was fairly half-hearted. Fast-forward to 2021, and all data points are showing that ethical purchasing decisions are becoming the norm.

Research from Salesforce revealed that 67% of consumers — and 72% of millennials — are more committed to supporting small businesses than they were before the pandemic.

And according to a study by Deloitte, four out of five consumers adopted more sustainable lifestyle choices during the pandemic and almost half buy more locally-produced goods than they did before.

Consumers are keenly aware that the planet won’t save itself, and that small, local businesses need help to stay afloat.

In other words, the severity of the pandemic has led consumers to reconsider their values and they are putting their money where their mouth is.

Cadbury and Asda are currently running major campaigns in the UK – Cadbury to support small businesses, and Asda to promote sustainable fashion. Let’s dive into their campaign strategy and take a look at consumer reactions.

#ForTheLoveOfChocolate by Cadbury

Cadbury has just launched a radical new campaign to support small businesses. #ForTheLoveOfChocolate encourages consumers to forego buying a bar of the brand’s famous Dairy Milk and instead support small shops and local chocolatiers.

In a sentimental video where a young girl tries to buy a bar of chocolate by offering the shopkeeper the toys in her pocket, Cadbury urges consumers to “help us help high street shops”.

On their website, Cadbury reminds people that Britain has a long tradition of small, independent, high street chocolate makers – which is exactly how Cadbury themselves started out back in 1824 when John Cadbury set up the first Cadbury shop in Birmingham.

The pandemic has been a struggle for us all and has hit small businesses especially hard. According to a recent report from Simply Business, small businesses in the UK stand to lose up to nearly £69 billion in lost revenues and 41% fear their business is at risk of permanently closing.

Cadbury aims to help raise awareness and support these small businesses, inviting consumers to try a small selection of chocolate brands for free. The brand has partnered with small local shops such as Melange in London, Coca Amore in Leicester and Cocoa Cabana in Manchester.

They wrote on their website, “Although you may have come here to buy some Cadbury chocolate, we were wondering if you’d also try an independent chocolate shop’s product, on us? That way we can all help thousands of independent chocolate makers everywhere.”

The reaction from users was extremely positive, with the selection of chocolate running out within one day. On social media, the brand received a flurry of encouraging comments and one Instagram user wrote “hats off to you Cadbury, this is brilliant”.

Colin O’Toole, Associate Director Marketing Cadbury UK & Ireland at Mondelez told Express: “At Cadbury, we of course understand what it’s like to start out as a small independent chocolate shop. So, we wanted to take the opportunity to support our fellow chocolatiers and ask the nation to do the same.”


Asda, the UK's third-largest supermarket chain with over 600 stores, recently launched a vintage clothes range as part of their commitment to sustainable fashion. Initially trialed in Leeds, the scheme has now been rolled out in 50 stores across the UK.

The idea is to move away from wasteful “fast fashion” and enable customers to "buy vintage, retro and second-hand branded pieces, preventing thousands of tonnes of garments going to landfill each year".

Selling secondhand clothes is part of Asda’s wider ‘George for Good’ initiative designed to reduce textile waste and promote sustainable sourcing. That includes Asda’s ‘Take Back’ scheme which encourages customers to return their unwanted clothes to the store, rewarding them with a 10% off George voucher and raising funds for breast cancer charities.

Mel Wilson, Global Professional Lead – Sustainable Sourcing and Quality at Asda, said: “We know that sustainable fashion is something that’s really important to our customers and colleagues. They’re passionate about us encouraging everyone in the UK to think about the issues of waste and how we can make fashion and textiles more circular, so that we really can reduce the number of garments that go into landfill.”

Sustainability is starting to become more mainstream, with companies like Primark and M&S allowing customers to return used items in stores. The trend isn’t restricted to fashion, either - furniture giant Ikea also announced plans to buy back and resell used furniture.

Final Thoughts

The shift in consumer ethics is an important trend for brands to be aware of.

The Latana Sustainability Index showed that sustainability is a trend that is here to stay, as 66% of consumers say sustainability is important when buying products. Particularly 18-39-year-olds, with slightly more rural background and medium or high education, are willing to do their research and will not hesitate to boycott unconvincing brands.

It has never been more important for brands to adopt ethical, sustainable practices, and ensure their customers are aware of them.

Is your brand a sustainable choice for consumers? Has your positioning changed since the pandemic?

Brand Sustainability

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