Ethical goods extend beyond costly coffee

The fair trade market may still be growing at a rapid rate, but exclusive research carried out for Marketing Week shows too few consumers are aware of the diversity of products or the range of retailers that stock them. 

The brand most heavily associated with the term “fair trade” is The Co-op, according to exclusive research carried out for Marketing Week by Lightspeed Research. The retailer gains 40% of responses as the first brand consumers think of when asked to consider fair trade products, compared to its nearest rivals Sainsbury’s at 8% and Cadbury at 7%.

Some of the brands most associated with both fair trade and corporate social responsibility, such as Cafédirect, Divine and Marks & Spencer, achieve 3% recognition as the first brand that comes to mind for consumers.

Ralph Risk, marketing director at Lightspeed Research, says: “I don’t think The Co-op coming top is too much of a surprise. The Co-op does have a general image of doing good, which falls in that area; it’s a natural fit for its brand. The likes of Cafédirect and Divine are much smaller brands, so you wouldn’t expect them to be as well known as The Co-op.”

The Co-op is also where consumers who want to buy fair trade products would naturally think to look for them. Indeed, 56% of people claim they would look to The Co-op to buy such goods, while 55% would turn to Tesco, 50% to Sainsbury’s and 40% to Asda. M&S, which promotes its Plan A marketing campaign to demonstrate its corporate responsibility, gains just 33% of the vote, Morrisons gets 32% and Oxfam 29%. Local independent shops and other charity shops, which you might think consumers would consider a natural home for fair trade goods, trail with 12% and 9% respectively.

Ironically, when people actually buy fair trade products, they do so most often at Tesco (35%), while The Co-op sits behind at 32%. And while 29% might think of Oxfam as a natural home for fair trade, just 5% buy their items from there.

“People like to buy products where they do their usual shop,” says Risk. “Few people would make a special trip to another retailer to buy fair trade goods, but most are happier to buy fair trade products where they’re already doing their other shopping.”

While the UK fair trade market grew from £493m in 2007 to £712.6m in 2008, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, the research indicates that few consumers are aware of the diversity of fair trade products available to them. Just 17% of people know the full breadth of goods available to buy, according to Lightspeed Research’s findings.

While 72% of people know that coffee can be bought with fair trade certification, with 63% for tea and 58% for chocolate, just 10% are aware that fair trade flowers exist, and only 6% are aware of fair trade beauty products.

“I must confess that coffee, tea and chocolate are the categories that first spring to mind for me too,” says Lightspeed’s Risk. “The Fairtrade Foundation perhaps needs to promote the other areas better. This needs to be done through better marketing and messages about which products outside coffee, chocolate and tea are fair trade. A few consumers might actively look up which are fair trade, but most expect the manufacturers to tell them.”

29% Of consumers would pay an extra 5% for a product carrying the Fairtrade mark

10% Of consumers are aware that fair trade flowers are on offer in the UK

6% Of consumers wrongly think Fairtrade means that a product is organic



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