A majority of Canadians consider themselves “Ethical Consumers”

This is the second release in a six-part series from Abacus Data on Canadian consumers’ attitudes and behaviour on corporate and community social responsibility.  Abacus Data has partnered with the Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conference held at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario on this series.

1,362 Canadians answered the survey, conducted online between December 3 and 6, 2010

Businesses in Canada should take note – a majority of Canadians consider themselves to be ethical consumers and are willing to spend more for products and services from socially responsible companies.

“Our research shows that more than half of Canadians (58%) consider themselves to be ethical consumers, with women and respondents aged 45 and up more likely to self-identify as someone who shops for products and services that they consider to be made ethically,” said Dr. David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.

Most Canadians (72%) said they would be willing to spend more for a $100 item if they were absolutely guaranteed that the item was ethically made while three in ten respondents (29%) said they would spend $15 or more on a $100 item.  Women and millennials (18 to 29 years old) said they would spend more, on average, than other Canadians for that ethically made product.

“Consumers are increasingly paying attention to, and making purchasing decisions based on, the ethical practices of businesses,” said Eli Fathi, Chair of the Corporate and Social Responsibility Conference held annually at Algonquin College in Ottawa.  “As more and more Canadians engage in ethical consumerism, businesses of all sizes can benefit from being more socially responsible.”

The buy local movement is no longer a niche market.  Almost seven in ten Canadians (69%) said they would be willing to pay more money for a meal at a restaurant if all the ingredients were grown locally and almost three in four Canadians (74%) said they would be willing to pay more for groceries if a version was available from a local grower or producer.

As with spending on ethically made goods and services, younger Canadians (18-29) and women were more likely to say they would pay extra for locally produced food. The survey results show that restaurants and grocery stores could benefit from offering locally grown products.

“Canadians are aware of the power of their purchasing decisions to influence corporate responsibility,” said Coletto.  “More and more, Canadians are talking to their friends and families about the merits of buying locally and the ethical behaviour of companies they interact with.”

Read the detailed report.


Between December 3rd and 6th, 2010, Abacus Data Inc. conducted an online survey among 1,362 randomly selected Canadian adults from an online panel of over 100,000 Canadians. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is comparable to +/- 2.7%, 19 times out of 20.

Results of the survey were statistically weighted by gender, age, region, and language using census data from Statistics Canada.  Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. More interviews were completed in Atlantic Canada and so the weighted total of interviews does not add up to 1,321.