Are fair trade labels good business ? Ethics and coffee buying intentions
P. DE PELSMACKER
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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