New research commissioned from Pennies, the digital charity box, has revealed 2018 to be the year of the ‘ethical consumer’, as shoppers are putting their principals and beliefs ahead of their pockets and bargains.

With over eight in ten (81%) of British consumers saying businesses must exhibit a responsibility to be socially and ethically good, it’s easy to see how retailers that are doing so are connecting with customers, and the wider communities they serve. 

Further, when asked which specific practices would endear consumers to a brand or business, the top results were making a contribution to local communities (69%) and selling and sourcing ethical products (54%) as well as tacking social problems (38%).

In fact, so strong is the belief in ethical practices across the country that over a third (37%) said they’ve gone as far as to stop buying from a business altogether because of their ethical concerns.

This feeling is stronger among both women (40%) and younger people aged 16-24 (52%).

2018 has been ‘year of the ‘ethical consumer’, finds Pennies

Click to enlarge infographic

Pennies CEO Alison Hutchinson said,

Our results were higher than we thought, but a rise in the ‘ethical consumer’ chimes with our experience as customers; we demand more from retailers in terms of product choice, convenience and payment options – and Brits also have a philanthropic vein running through them.

In addition, British consumers want to give something back themselves (77% prefer donating to charity in small change and ad-hoc), but with a decline in us all carrying physical spare change (40% now frequently carry zero cash), retailers are seeking digital alternatives to traditional collection boxes in-store.

Pennies aims to bring retailers and their customers together for social good, and offers customers the chance to digitally donate small change – anonymously – at the end of a bill when paying by card or mobile wallet. The charity has seen a 50% increase like for like on last year in consumer digital giving.

– Ends –

Notes to Editors
For more information and statistics from this survey please contact Rob Dyson, Head of Marketing and Communications at Pennies on 07813 091 970 /

  • Pennies’ consumer research poll surveyed 2,025 UK adults. It was undertaken by Markettiers and was conducted in April 2018.

About Pennies

  • To date, 60M customer micro-donations have been made across more than 50 retailers –raising £15M+ for over 400 UK charities.
  • Pennies estimates that if the UK’s card holders donated 30p once a month over £190M would be raised for charity every year.
  • Someone currently gives via Pennies every two seconds.

How Pennies works

  • Pennies’ micro-donations are anonymous – personal data-free, quick, and a choice every time. The retailer nominates the charity that its customers can support. No data is collected, and there is no follow up; it really is about dropping a few pence in a charity box – but via a debit or credit card or mobile wallet.
  • Press ‘YES’ on the Chip & PIN machine in-store, or click the ‘Donate’ button online.  The request is always for a few pennies (1p-99p) – either by rounding up or topping up.


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