Nowadays, companies tend to work on sustainable products rather than non-sustainable ones – as the demand for sustainable products increases. By doing so, the expectation is to achieve a better image towards customers in general and to reach a wider circle of customers. However, the market of sustainable products brings along problems which the companies have to deal with: higher costs, smaller availability and readjustments – everything in order to provide a more responsible experience. That is why companies need to change their marketing strategies and make efforts to be able to compete economically with companies which lure customers with considerably less sustainable, but also much less expensive products. To ensure competitiveness, it should be clear what companies can do to be successful and what consequences might result from caring about sustainability. In order to guarantee the alleged sustainability and a greater responsibility to the customers, one of the most common efforts is to provide so-called Fair Trade products. To determine whether the adoption of these products is worth the struggle, the following question has to be answered: To what extent does the purchase of Fair Trade products influence the consumer’s attitude?
Answering this crucial question requires dealing with these topics: Fair Trade in general and how it is defined, the characteristics of the potential Fair Trade consumer, the incentives for buying Fair Trade products and the meaning of Fair Trade to the customer.
As of today, Fair Trade is on everyone’s lips. But what does it actually mean? The name itself suggests something “fair” which essentially can be translated with “honest”, “reasonable”, “clean” or “just”. In conjunction with the term “trade”, it could mean that the products labeled Fair Trade are products that have a clean history with nothing bad happening throughout the production.
Nevertheless, to give a more specific overview of what Fair Trade basically means, this definition of the EFTA, the European Free Trade Association, which says it is “a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade” is appropriate; in this context, it is also indicated that Fair Trade “contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.” (EFTA, 2002, p. 24) To sum up, the keywords of Fair Trade are: transparency, respect, equity, sustainability and development; and since each one of these words connotes positively, this corresponds to the broader term “fair”.
In addition to that, the greater task of Fair Trade is considered the support of social justice which can be seen as a huge problem in the modern world, as there are many structural disparities between the North and the South. Improving the conditions as far as prices, labor and the situation of the environment and the communities in affected regions of countries are concerned is also rather important aspect of Fair Trade (International Journal of Consumer Studies, 2011, p.656).
What is more, Fair Trade can be characterized by its organizations. These organizations were founded to directly help producers in underdeveloped countries and, more importantly, show the world that the conditions need to be improved by making it a public issue through campaigns. They also enter into dialogues with those who are responsible for the current state of affairs in order to promote progress.