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Ethical consumption from niche to mainstream – Discovering consumers’ information need


  • Schleenbecker, Rosa
  • Hamm, Ulrich


Fair Trade-products gained increasing importance during the last 15 years and entered the mainstream market. Nowadays, they are no longer sold only by a few selected shops but supermarkets and discount shops also offer them. The entrance into a different market is accompanied by an adjustment to a different group of consumers, which necessitates the exploration of consumers’ information needs regarding quantity and quality of Fair Tradeproducts. In this study, coffee as a popular Fair Trade-product was exemplary chosen in order to explore the task. As a survey method, an Information Display Matrix (IDM)-experiment was chosen in order to be able to trace the information acquisition behaviour and the final purchase decision. IDM experiments are suited to sequentially trace information search. The IDM was accompanied by a complementary questionnaire; both survey methods were conducted computer assisted. Results show that among the tested product attributes, product price, production methods, Fair Trade-label and the ethical attribute ‘protection of children’ were most important. Consumers are also willing to pay a higher price for a product which fulfills their requirements of a Fair Trade coffee. With regard to information acquisition behaviour, results show that consumers perform a rather extensive information search and apply strategic approaches, whereof attribute-based strategies are most popular.

Suggested Citation

  • Schleenbecker, Rosa & Hamm, Ulrich, 2012. "Ethical consumption from niche to mainstream – Discovering consumers’ information need," 131st Seminar, September 18-19, 2012, Prague, Czech Republic 135778, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaa131:135778

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bejou, David & Wray, Barry & Ingram, Thomas N., 1996. "Determinants of relationship quality: An artificial neural network analysis," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 137-143, June.
    2. Lewin, Jeffrey E. & Johnston, Wesley J., 1997. "Relationship marketing theory in practice: A case study," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 23-31, May.
    3. Mingxia Zhang, 1997. "The Effects of Imperfect Competition on the Size and Distribution of Research Benefits," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1252-1265.
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    More about this item


    Ethical Consumption; Fair Trade; Information Search Behaviour; Information Display Matrix; IDM; Organic; Agribusiness; Agricultural and Food Policy; D12; M 31;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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