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4 reasons why most consumers don’t care about corporate ethics

January 15, 2007

While Steve Jobs was bathing in the warm glow of media attention following the announcement of the iPhone, the Feds were taking another look at the accounting practices of Apple.

Whatever results from the investigation, it’s unlikely to alter the average consumers’ opinion of the company. People will not cancel their orders for iPhones or return the iPods they received at Christmas gifts.

The average consumer doesn’t care.

Boycotts and protest movements were around in the 1970s and 1980s and made a brief appearance in 1997 when some anti-globalists smashed up a Starbucks store during the Seattle riots.

To be accurate, in 2002, Americans decided they didn’t like the French, so they re-named the fries and didn’t buy their wine and cheese, but this only lasted a few months.

However, that was a country, rather than a corporate boycott.

Despite a world that’s more connected than ever- corporate boycotts and protests seem to have disappeared from view, which seems to contradict what many analysts where predicting even five years ago.

Although 2006 was hardly a year where corporate scandals reached Enron proportions, they were still happened; the HP spying scandal and with various companies fined for issues relating to options, corporate ethics still made the news. Business Week even ran a cover story on Chinese factories, exposing the false information on ethics and working conditions that’s being given to US companies.

Importantly, all of this doesn’t seem to impact the consumer.

Influx believes there are a few reasons for this.

1. Lack of Brand Knowledge

Consumers are often completely unaware of the corporations behind the brands they are buying.

2. The Issues are too Complex

Consumers would need to work too hard to understand the complex issues that surround corporate ethics. Even when they aren’t, no one has the time to address them. In addition, there is often conflicting information, making an objective decision difficult.

3. Consumption Rules

If you have to have something, at a low price, nothing else matters. If people are prepared to trample others to death for a $29 DVD player at Wal-Mart, they are not going to question who made it or what conditions it was made in.

4. Product Matters, Not the Corporation

Influx would argue that the issue has flipped from corporate ethics to product ethics. If a car has a fault, a laptop computer explodes or the iPod’s batteries don’t work, everyone gets to know about it and the feedback ripples back to the corporation. Consumers don’t care what the CEO or board gets up to behind their back, as long as it doesn’t impact the performance of the product they paid their hard earned cash for.

Pricing is the one thing that matters, if your pricing secrets are exposed, as is the case with this maker of luxury chocolates and it does only takes one tenacious blogger, good luck.

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