Are you YEM?

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 2nd Mar 2017

It’s #Fairtradefortnight and there’s a group of people for whom it’s Fairtrade Fortnight every fortnight – the YEMS.

As acronyms go, it’s hardly the catchiest, but it’s nice to know this group – the “Young Ethically Minded Shoppers” exists and are making their presence felt.

Specialist online retailer has experienced significant growth over the past three years, which it puts down to a growing number of young female shoppers who make their purchasing decisions based on moral grounds.

Research by has shown that around 90% of ethical shoppers are female and a growing number are in their twenties and thirties.

YEM’s like Bethany Bishop are typical of the new type of female shopper which is spearheading the rise of ethical consumerism.

The 24-year old public relations executive from Nottinghamshire says she always checks labels before putting anything into her shopping basket.

She said: “I’ve been interested in ethical shopping since the age of around 16. I don’t want to endorse or fund cruelty and suffering in the world just because it might save me a few quid.

“I feel much better about my shopping choices knowing I am buying products which have been sourced ethically and responsibly.

“A growing number of my friends feel the same way too. Once you become aware of some of the practices which go on around the world to meet the need for cheap goods it becomes impossible to turn a blind eye.

“Thanks to social media there’s now much more awareness of where things come from and people are seeing the reality of what it takes to get the products they take for granted.

“That’s why I truly believe that ethical shopping will become a much greater force in the future as more of us become aware of the realities of trade around the world.”

Demand for ethical financial products also appears to be rising. Research from the UK Sustainable Investment Forum has found that a label like fairtrade for financial products would encourage people to put their money with providers that meet certain standards.

63% of people surveyed by UKSIF back a label to identify ethical or sustainable financial products. 

Fairtrade Fortnight launched on Monday and runs to March 12. It’s a national event which aims to highlight the options available to Britain’s growing army of ethical consumers.

The event is run by the Fairtrade Foundation and supports the development of thriving farmer and working communities. It is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.

The Fairtrade mark has become a common sight on produce such as tea, coffee and fruit yet also offers a wide range of more surprising Fairtrade goods such as shoes, clothing, tableware and bed linen.

The UK has seen a steady growth in Fairtrade sales in the last ten years, with a marked rise in sales of food and drink in particular.

Britons drink more than 60 billion cups of year each year and the Fairtrade sector accounts for around 10% of that – double what it was in 2000.

Ethical Superstore says that greater media exposure of working conditions on farms and factories has led to an increased awareness of the exploitation of workers in parts of Africa and Asia and research has shown that eight out of ten British consumers now recognise the Fairtrade mark.

As well as tea, coffee and chocolate, Fairtrade best sellers include cola and orange juice, but the retailer says they have also seen a greater demand for Fairtrade fashion, with a significant growth in sales of trainers.

Brash consumerism is out, considerate shopping is in

Peter Leatherland from said: “The emergence of the Young Ethically Minded Shopper is something which began to have an impact in the market around ten years ago and has grown steadily to become a real force today.

“These shoppers care more about where their items came from than just how cheap they are. They want quality and they want to know that their money is helping to make a positive change in the world.

“A growing number of British shoppers are selecting items to put in their baskets based upon origin and provenance.

“Our own research has shown that the majority of ethical customers are female and a growing number are under 40.

“The success of retailers such as ourselves shows just how far ethical shopping has come over the past decade and there really is a lot more choice available to consumers now than at any point in the past.

“Mainstream brands are also taking notice of the YEMS and I would expect to see a lot more niche products and marketing with this sector in mind in the coming years.”

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