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Does Fair Trade Breed Contempt? A Cross-Country Examination on the Moderating Role of Brand Familiarity and Consumer Expertise on Product Evaluation

Vera Herédia-Colaço (), Rita Coelho do Vale () and Sofia Villas-Boas ()
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Vera Herédia-Colaço: Universidade Europeia, Laureate International Universities
Rita Coelho do Vale: Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Journal of Business Ethics, 2019, vol. 156, issue 3, 737-758

Abstract: Abstract This article is a within- and cross-country examination of the impact of fair trade certification on consumers’ evaluations and attitudes toward ethically certified products. Across three experimental studies, the authors analyze how different levels of brand familiarity and fair trade expertise impact consumer decisions. The authors study this phenomenon across markets with different social orientation cultures to analyze potential dissimilarities in the way consumers evaluate and behave toward ethically certified products. Findings suggest that fair trade certifications enhance product valuations. However, this effect is especially observed for low familiar brands, once the level of fair trade expertise increases. Findings also suggest that there are individual cultural differences with respect to social and environmental labeling expertise that may account for some of the unexplained variation in choice behaviors observed across countries. Results indicate that especially in more (mature) individualistic markets (vs. collectivistic) consumer ethical behavior seems to be greatly influenced by consumers’ perceptions about the eligibility of brands using (or not) fair trade. This effect is strengthened by the significant mediating role of consumers’ ethicality perceptions on the relationship between fair trade and the willingness to pay for brands.

Keywords: Fair trade; Product valuation; Product evaluation; Willingness to pay; Ethical consumption; Cross-cultural ethical behaviors (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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