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Are fair trade labels good business ? Ethics and coffee buying intentions


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  • G. RAYP



On the basis of a sample of 808 Belgian citizens and using conjoint analysis, the importance of a ‘fair trade’ label for the coffee buying decision is studied, as well as the willingness-to-pay for such a label. Furthermore, the size of the consumer segment willing to buy ‘fair trade’ coffee and their characteristics are studied. On average, a fair trade label is considered to be the second most important coffee attribute, together with flavor, and almost as important as the brand. Ten percent of the sample is willing to pay at least the actual price premium for fair trade coffee (27%). On the basis of the relative importance they attach to various coffee attributes, coffee buyers can be divided into four segments: fair trade lovers (11%), fair trade likers (40%), flavor lovers (24%) and brand lovers (25%). A number of demographic characteristics are measured, as well as the personal values of the respondents (Rokeach). Five basic dimensions of personal values can be distinguished: civic spirit, competence, sincere and social, idealistic, and personal gratification. Fair trade lovers are relatively highly educated, and the 31-44 years age group is over represented. They score higher than the other segments on personal values such as idealism, but lower on the dimension ‘civic spirit’. The characteristics of fair trade likers are not significantly different from the average in the sample, except for their higher degree of idealism.

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Paper provided by Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in its series Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium with number 03/165.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:03/165

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Keywords: fair trade; coffee buying behavior; ethical production; ethical consumption; personal values; conjoint analysis;

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  1. Green, Paul E & Srinivasan, V, 1978. " Conjoint Analysis in Consumer Research: Issues and Outlook," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(2), pages 103-23, Se.
  2. Crosby, Lawrence A. & Bitner, Mary Jo & Gill, James D., 1990. "Organizational structure of values," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 123-134, March.
  3. Roberts, James A., 1996. "Will the real socially responsible consumer please step forward?," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 79-83.
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Cited by:
  1. Jean-Marie Codron & Lucie Siriex & Thomas Reardon, 2006. "Social and environmental attributes of food products in an emerging mass market: Challenges of signaling and consumer perception, with European illustrations," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 283-297, October.
  2. D. Van Den Poel, 2003. "Predicting Mail-Order Repeat Buying: Which Variables Matter?," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 03/191, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  3. Leonardo Becchetti & Giovanni Trovato, 2011. "Corporate social responsibility and firm efficiency: a latent class stochastic frontier analysis," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 231-246, December.
  4. I. Vermeir & W. Verbeke, 2004. "Sustainable Food Consumption: Exploring The Consumer Attitude – Behaviour Gap," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 04/268, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  5. Leonardo Becchetti & Furio Camillo Rosati, 2005. "The demand for socially responsible products: empirical evidence from a pilot study on fair trade consumers," Working Papers 04, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  6. Leonardo Becchetti & Stefano Castriota, 2009. "Is Fair Trade Honey Sweeter? An Empirical Analysis on the Effect of Affiliation on Productivity," CEIS Research Paper 141, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 30 Jun 2009.
  7. I. Vermeir & W. Verbeke, 2005. "Sustainable food consumption, involvement, certainty and values: an application of the theory of Planned Behaviour," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/352, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  8. Vermeir, Iris & Verbeke, Wim, 2008. "Sustainable food consumption among young adults in Belgium: Theory of planned behaviour and the role of confidence and values," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 542-553, January.
  9. Rode, Julian & Hogarth, Robin M. & Le Menestrel, Marc, 2008. "Ethical differentiation and market behavior: An experimental approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 265-280, May.


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