Idea Development Trends: Conscious Consumers

Jun 9, 2020 | Innovation

No matter what generation you were born in or where you’re from, we all make purchase decisions based on what aligns with our personal ideologies. It’s the first lesson you learn in economics in regards to supply & demand. Demand is created by the consumer but what drives the consumer to create the demand?

Enter, the conscious consumers: An ever-changing flow of societal standards and norms that define what consumers want. Or as we like to call it: The “vote with your dollars” movement. And boy is it having a moment right now.

TL;DR: Consumers vote with their dollars.

Q: What’s driving the movement?

A: People. Specifically, consumers who care about Social Issues.


Conscious consumers are driven by social issues. We could write a book on the social issues that fuel the conscious consumer movement but since it’s June, we’d be remiss if we didn’t start this by talking about the LGBTQIA+ community because, Happy Pride Month. Oh and a big little thing called the Black Lives Matter movement.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t:

The Story of Chick-fil-A

It’s a prime example of a company that lost consumer demand because of their unwillingness to support the moral compasses of their patrons on both sides of the issue. This is our favorite example because it shows how one company lost twice to two different conscious consumer-types. When the news of funding anti-LGBT organizations came out, many people boycotted the place immediately. Then after years of scrutiny, they made the decision to stop funding said organizations and another boycott ensued – this time by those that thought they were abandoning their values.


  • Is there something the company could do to appease both members of the aisle?
  • When brands don’t make a stance known is that the same as making a stance that you disagree with? Which is worse?

Join us in our Cobalt Conversation and tell us what you think here.

And whether or not they “get it right” isn’t the answer, it’s simply an example of just how hard navigating consumer demand can be in an age where consumers care first about the company’s morals and second about their product or service.


A buying power worth paying attention to…

Welcome to “woke culture” people. The LGBTQIA+ community and their allies are among the most authentic conscious consumers. They make up a minority group that has spent a long time fighting for just an ounce of equality and after decades of protesting, they’ve harnessed the power of buying. This is just another place where the “vote with your dollar” belief system takes shape. According to Entrepreneur, “the purchasing power is inarguable — an estimated $3.7 trillion globally, according to LGBT Capital; so brands that go beyond ‘Rainbows for June’ and instead work to capture the essence of LGBTQ+ culture will win our dollars again and again.”

This financially-backed moral compass is one brands need to pay attention to. It’s a new level of support consumers are demanding from brands outside of saying something supportive on Instagram. Which brings us to our next point…



The bare minimum is no longer enough…

The last week brought worldwide protests, resulting in the largest civil rights movement in history. And regardless of any stance, one thing was made very clear – enough is enough. We had team members in San Francisco, Phoenix and New York City and there was one message that stuck with us: “matter is the minimum”. This simple yet profound message sums up perfectly what these protestors (aka consumers) want to see. This was made even more clear by the outpouring of support and call for support of black-owned businesses and organizations. What does this mean for brands that aren’t black-owned? We think it means you better start making sure that not only are your employees a better representation of diversity but your leadership teams as well. Consumers will be taking their cash to the companies that will do more than post a black square. These are Conscious Consumers.

When looking into the investments within this space, the market looked small and that’s because it only reflects investments made in new companies. What it doesn’t show are the legacy companies that have invested MILLIONS in their own brands to adapt to the rise in conscious consumerism.

Consumers will never not be conscious of the decisions they make but social norms change and with that, so does the basis for making decisions – hence the constant need for new products and services. So any industry has the opportunity to innovate here.

We want to know what you think innovation in the name of conscious consumers looks like. At Cobalt, we yearn for Conscious Consumerism to morph from feel-good marketing campaigns to real change in the form of new businesses, products and services in support of diversity.  Join our conversation and build with us – we are looking for you to have big ideas. Let’s turn our Facebook rants into action. It’s time to get to work.

We know you have more to say on this. Let’s discuss that here. 

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