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