Purchase decision-making in fair trade and the ethical 'gap': 'is there a fair trade twix?'

Alex Nicholls, Nick J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children are increasingly being recognised as a significant force in the retail market place, as primary consumers, influencers of others, and as future customers. This paper adds to the literature on children as consumers by exploring their attitudinal responses to a specific group of products: Fair Trade lines. There has been no research to date that has specifically addressed children as consumers of Fair Trade or the ethical purchase decision-making process in this area. The methodological approach taken here is an essentially interpretive and naturalistic analysis of two focus groups of school children. The analysis found that there is an urgent need to develop meaningful Fair Trade brands that combine strong brand knowledge and positive brand images to bridge the ethical purchase gap between the formation of clear ethical attitudes and actual ethical purchase behaviour. Such an approach would both capture more of the children’s primary market and influence future purchase behaviour. It is argued that Fair Trade actors should coordinate new marketing communications campaigns that build brand knowledge structures holistically around the Fair Trade process and that extend beyond merely raising consumer awareness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Strategic Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • children as customers
  • Fair Trade
  • strategic marketing
  • marketing communications
  • ethical consumption
  • brand knowledge


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