Consumer Power: How Consumer Behaviour can influence change

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Founded in 1996 by HRH The Prince of Wales, In Kind Direct distributes new, usable consumer products, donated by some of the UK’s best known manufacturers and retailers, to UK charities and not-for-profit organisations working in the UK and abroad.

We regularly engage with the national news media on the issues faced by our charity network partners, and for our latest campaign, we wanted to find out what the wider public think about product giving, waste and sustainability.  To launch our campaign, we commissioned a survey of 4001 people, aged 16-75, across the UK.  The results highlighted the importance of companies listening to their consumers, and we hope will encourage more of our donors to think about what they choose to do with their surplus stock.

More than half of Brits (52%) say they would feel disappointed if they knew that a business wasn’t giving its surplus stock to charity for people in need, and more than half (51%) would actually go as far as choosing to shop in other stores. In fact, three out of five people (60%) aged 16-24 said they would take their custom elsewhere.

Consumer purchasing power is stronger than ever before and is changing the way businesses operate.  87% of Brits we surveyed think consumers can influence how retailers and manufacturers do business.  Thanks to improved access to information, constantly increasing choice of goods and services and the opportunity to share experiences more widely – such as on social media and customer review websites – it is becoming more difficult for retailers and manufacturers to attract and retain consumers.  According to our survey, if consumers don’t agree with a company’s business ethics or social responsibilities, they will likely vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.

“Retail businesses need to listen to the wishes of customers more than ever before. Trading ethically and respectfully is high up on a customer’s wish list.

With the growth of social media, consumers are instantly connected and are happy to spread the word about organisations that are mindful of the environment and their social responsibilities.”  (Retail and Consumer Expert, Kate Hardcastle MBE).

Robin Boles, Former Chief Executive of In Kind Direct says:

“It’s clear from our new research that consumers are really switched on to the issues of waste and sustainability and, as a result, are becoming more discerning about their shopping habits.  More and more businesses are thinking about the impact they are having on the environment and what they can do to improve any negative effect their businesses make.”

Focusing purely on profit is not enough anymore.  Manufacturers and retailers are forced to consider the evolving demands of consumers and work them into their business models.  One way of doing this is to donate surplus stock to charity rather than selling to discounters and liquidators, or sending to landfill.

Kate Hardcastle added: “It makes good business sense for organisations to put their surplus stock to good use to help communities, not least because this new research highlights just how much customers appreciate it and it’s an obvious way to reflect their wishes.”

With the demand from our charity network partners ever increasing, In Kind Direct is in need of more donations to help support these charities and their beneficiaries and meet their critical needs.  If you work for a company that makes or sells consumer products, please look at our website: and join the product giving revolution in 2019.