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Inciting consumers to buy fairly‐traded products: a field experiment

Alain d'Astous (HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Suzanne Mathieu (Le groupe Keyrus, Levallois‐Perret Cedex, France)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 2 May 2008



Research on fairly‐traded products has shown that changing consumers' attitudes may not be the best strategy to bring consumers to purchase these products. The objective of this study is to examine a different, non‐cognitive approach based on the utilization of behavioral influence strategies.


A field experiment was conducted involving 168 consumers. The experiment took place in the context of a commercial stand in which fairly‐traded products such as coffee, sugar, chocolate, and so on, were sold. Three factors were manipulated: the concreteness of the information provided to visitors; the provision of information about the popularity of fairly‐traded products among relevant others; and the possibility of receiving concrete feedback from a producer.


The paper finds that, contrary to what was expected, abstract information led to a greater amount of money spent on average by visitors. In addition, knowing that fairly‐traded products were popular among relevant others had a significant impact on money spent only when feedback was not offered to the participants.

Research limitations/implications

A field experiment does not offer a high degree of control over nuisance variables. The application of the manipulations and the randomization of participants in this study were therefore not optimal.

Practical implications

Managers involved in the marketing of fairly‐traded products who communicate with potential buyers using concrete messages should make sure that consumers are attentive to their messages. These messages should inform consumers that fairly‐traded products are purchased by relevant others.


The paper provides useful information on how to influence consumers' attitudes to purchasing fairly‐traded products.



d'Astous, A. and Mathieu, S. (2008), "Inciting consumers to buy fairly‐traded products: a field experiment", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 149-157.



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