Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 365–383 | Cite as

Through Thick and Thin: How Fair Trade Consumers Have Reacted to the Global Economic Recession

  • Tierney Bondy
  • Vishal Talwar


Research on fair trade has flourished over the past decade as fair trade food products have gained popularity amongst consumers in many developed economies. This study examines the effects of recessionary economic conditions on fair trade consumers’ purchasing behaviour. An online survey was administered to 306 fair trade consumers from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The results reveal a discrepancy among fair trade consumers as only consumers that purchase fair trade on an occasional basis adhered to established consumer behaviour norms, i.e. decreasing their purchases of fair trade products and becoming significantly more price aware. Respondents who actively consume fair trade generally remained loyal to their purchase. While some active consumers altered their purchasing behaviour, this phenomenon was not common amongst this group as no statistically significant changes were observed. Differences were also noted among the three countries as the Canadian and US fair trade consumers significantly decreased their consumption of fair trade as a result of the recession, whereas the UK consumers did not. In addition to the research results, theoretical and managerial implications will be discussed along with future research directions.

Key words

consumer behaviour Canada consumption cross-country analysis economic recession fair trade United Kingdom United States of America 



Theory of Reasoned Action


Theory of Planned Behaviour


United Kingdom


United States of America


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonU.K.
  2. 2.Department of ManagementLondon School of EconomicsLondonU.K.

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