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A Fair Chance to Know It’s Fair: A study of online communication within the field of Fair Trade consumption
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The rise of ethical consumerism has contributed to that organisations increasingly include CSR policies in their business and marketing strategies. Consumers want to make more ethically based purchasing decisions, and are guided by organisations’ ethical claims and by product labels. However, there are many different ethical organisations and labels on the market today and consumers find it difficult to separate them and know what each of them stands for. Ethical consumerism stems from green consumerism and has contributed to the development and rise of the Fair Trade movement. The general idea of Fair Trade is to support producers in poor countries, and by purchasing Fair Trade products consumers can contribute to realising the Fair Trade objectives. Previous research has identified a gap between consumers’ attitudes and actual behaviour regarding Fair Trade consumption. Consumers clearly express a positive attitude towards the Fair Trade movement and Fair Trade products, but their attitudes are not reflected in actual purchases. Researchers suggest that the gap could depend on lack of information and proof that Fair Trade actually contribute to better working and living conditions of producers in poor countries, but this had not yet been investigated. Our main purpose with this degree project is to identify factors that could affect the attitude-behaviour gap, and more precisely how access to information affects the existing gap. Our conclusions and recommendations are providing valuable insights for Fair Trade and other ethical organisations and businesses that are part of ethical value chains. We therefore formulated the following research question:

In what ways can Fair Trade certification organisations and retailers diminish consumers’ attitude-behaviour gap in Fair Trade consumption?

In order to answer our research question, we formulated the following four sub-purposes; to investigate the dialogue between Fairtrade and consumers; to investigate how Fairtrade and retailers communicate and share information with each other; investigate retailers’ expected and perceived responsibility as part of the Fairtrade value chain; identify what factors consumers believe are important regarding Fairtrade and their Fairtrade consumption. Our study is delimited to Sweden and is based on content analysis of communication between Fairtrade Sweden, consumers and retailers, on Fairtrade Sweden's Facebook page. The study has both qualitative and quantitative characteristics, although focus is on qualitative data analysis. We collected a total number of 1671 posts and comments, where 357 were published by Fairtrade, 1215 by consumers and 99 by retailers and other businesses. All data were collected and categorised manually and copied into an excel sheet where each post and comment were coded. The analysis and discussion of our empirical findings are further based on theory within the fields of Fair Trade consumption, ethical and political consumerism, online communication, retail marketing and branding.

The main findings from this research are that consumers view retailers as an important actor in the Fair Trade value chain. Consumers put high value in communication and cooperation between Fair Trade and retailers, but these two actors have not realised the advantages and opportunities of it. We have also observed that consumers seek to maximise utility and that the existing attitude-behaviour gap thereby is influenced by several factors. Branding and labelling within Fair Trade consumption are important for consumers' purchasing decisions. Although, we have observed that product brands that have the Fairtrade mark are perceived as more important than the Fairtrade brand itself. Consumers are loyal to brands and do not show a willingness to switch brands to buy a Fairtrade marked product. Moreover, Fair Trade consumption is influenced by other ethical and environmental concerns. Consumers want Fair Trade organisations to be ethical and also environmentally friendly at all stages and throughout the entire value chain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 66 p.
Keyword [en]
Fair Trade consumption, Fair Trade, Fairtrade, ethical consumerism, qualitative content analysis, Facebook communication
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-80531OAI: diva2:650196
Educational program
International Business Program
Available from: 2013-09-20 Created: 2013-09-20 Last updated: 2013-09-20Bibliographically approved

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