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Do Information, Price, or Morals Influence Ethical Consumption? A Natural Field Experiment and Customer Survey on the Purchase of Fair Trade Coffee

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Author Info

  • Veronika A. Andorfer

    ()

  • Ulf Liebe

    ()

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    Abstract

    We address ethical consumption using a natural field experiment on the actual purchase of Fair Trade (FT) coffee in three supermarkets in Germany. Based on a quasi-experimental before-and-after design the effects of three different treatments - information, 20% price reduction, and a moral appeal - are analyzed. Sales data cover actual ethical purchase behavior and avoid problems of social desirability. But they offer only limited insights into the motivations of individual consumers. We therefore complemented the field experiment with a customer survey that allows us to contrast observed (ethical) buying behavior with self-reported FT consumption. Results from the experiment suggest that only the price reduction had the expected positive and statistically significant effect on FT consumption. In the customer survey, however, we find that the personal norm has the strongest effect on both self-reported and observed purchases of FT products.

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    File URL: ftp://repec.sowi.unibe.ch/files/wp6/andorfer-liebe-2014.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2014
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences in its series University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers with number 6.

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    Length: 41 pages
    Date of creation: 26 Apr 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:6

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    Web page: http://www.sowi.unibe.ch/

    Related research

    Keywords: ethical consumption; Fair Trade; natural field experiment; survey; observed and self-reported behavior;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

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    1. Rotaris Lucia & Danielis Romeo, 2011. "Willingness to Pay for Fair Trade Coffee: A Conjoint Analysis Experiment with Italian Consumers," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-22, June.
    2. Patrice Cailleba & Herbert Casteran, 2010. "Do Ethical Values Work? A Quantitative Study of the Impact of Fair Trade Coffee on Consumer Behavior," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 97(4), pages 613-624, December.
    3. Battalio, Raymond C & Kagel, John H & Kogut, Carl A, 1991. "Experimental Confirmation of the Existence of a Giffen Good," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 961-70, September.
    4. Veronika Andorfer & Ulf Liebe, 2012. "Research on Fair Trade Consumption—A Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(4), pages 415-435, April.
    5. Basu, Arnab K. & Hicks, Robert L., 2008. "Label Performance and the Willingness to Pay for Fair Trade Coffee: A Cross-National Perspective," Discussion Papers 44336, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    6. Lakshman Krishnamurthi & S. P. Raj, 1991. "An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship Between Brand Loyalty and Consumer Price Elasticity," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(2), pages 172-183.
    7. Gerald J. Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2008. "Honesty on the Streets - A Natural Field Experiment on Newspaper Purchasing," Working Papers 2009-24, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    8. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
    9. Michal Carrington & Benjamin Neville & Gregory Whitwell, 2010. "Why Ethical Consumers Don’t Walk Their Talk: Towards a Framework for Understanding the Gap Between the Ethical Purchase Intentions and Actual Buying Behaviour of Ethically Minded Consumers," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 97(1), pages 139-158, November.
    10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
    11. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
    12. Caswell, Julie A. & Mojduszka, Eliza M., 1996. "Using Informational Labeling To Influence The Market For Quality In Food Products," Working Papers 25989, Regional Research Project NE-165 Private Strategies, Public Policies, and Food System Performance.
    13. John Cranfield & Spencer Henson & James Northey & Oliver Masakure, 2010. "An assessment of consumer preference for fair trade coffee in Toronto and Vancouver," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 307-325.
    14. Patrick Pelsmacker & Wim Janssens, 2007. "A Model for Fair Trade Buying Behaviour: The Role of Perceived Quantity and Quality of Information and of Product-specific Attitudes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 361-380, November.
    15. Shareen Hertel & Lyle Scruggs & C. Patrick Heidkamp, 2007. "Human Rights and Public Opinion: From Attitudes to Action," Economic Rights Working Papers 3, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute, revised Apr 2008.
    16. repec:feb:natura:0061 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Jeffery Bray & Nick Johns & David Kilburn, 2011. "An Exploratory Study into the Factors Impeding Ethical Consumption," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 98(4), pages 597-608, February.
    18. Robert T. Jensen & Nolan H. Miller, 2008. "Giffen Behavior and Subsistence Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1553-77, September.
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