How fair-trade claims and emotional empathy affect the consumer’s propensity to buy fair chocolate?

Cristina Zerbini (Department of Economics and Management, University of Parma, Parma, Italy)
Donata Tania Vergura (Department of Economics and Management, University of Parma, Parma, Italy)
Beatrice Luceri (Department of Economics and Management, University of Parma, Parma, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 1 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Concerns related to the ethical issues are evident in the increasingly socially conscious marketplace. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the importance of fair-trade communication activities in the buying decision-making process of chocolate. The role of emotional empathy in influencing the willingness to pay and the purchase intention was also explored.

Design/methodology/approach

A mail survey with a sample of 199 Italian chocolate consumers was conducted. Respondents were equally and randomly distributed among the four print advertising stimuli: conventional brand with conventional campaign; conventional brand with pro-social campaign; pro-social brand with conventional campaign; and pro-social brand with pro-social campaign. A between-subjects factorial design was used to test the hypotheses.

Findings

Results showed the effectiveness of pro-social marketing campaigns in increasing consumers’ willingness to pay and purchase intention for fair-trade chocolate. Contextually, consumers with a high level of emotional empathy showed a greater purchase intention as opposed to those with a low level.

Research limitations/implications

As the ethical nature of the product should be communicated in several ways, the effect of different types of textual information on the dependent variables should be considered.

Originality/value

The study enriches the literature on ethical consumption and provides some guidance to manufacturers and product managers for understanding the role of pro-social marketing communication in influencing consumer behaviour.

Keywords

Citation

Zerbini, C., Vergura, D.T. and Luceri, B. (2019), "How fair-trade claims and emotional empathy affect the consumer’s propensity to buy fair chocolate?", British Food Journal, Vol. 121 No. 7, pp. 1605-1613. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2018-0417

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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