Of a poll of 1,000 people, 91% said the way a company behaved towards its customers and communities was influential when making a purchase, while 74% wanted to know more about the behaviour of a company before buying.
Six out of 10 said that awareness of a company's ethics affected their decision-making and 53% said knowing that "the company donates a percentage of profits to charity and good causes" was influential when considering a purchase.
The survey also exposed an age and gender split, with more under-30s ranking "ethical brand values" as a priority when spending on the high street, compared to older consumers. Social responsibility was also a higher priority for women than men.
The research was commissioned by agency 23red to coincide with the launch of its Great Good offering, aimed at educating brands and businesses on how best to align their commercial interests with their core values.
Jane Asscher, 23red managing partner and founder, said: "The real challenge for brands is how best to harness the values at the heart of their business as marketing tools, without appearing cynical. This isn’t about sound bites and tokenistic gestures – it's a paradigm shift."
A separate review of the national press by the agency in the first six months of this year found that Marks & Spencer and Pepsico, Britvic and Unilever were brands that had received positive press coverage on their ethical records.