Fair Trade and the Socially Conscious Consumer
Global consumers are becoming more demanding that corporations display a sense of compassion and social responsibility. One of the first recognitions of this trend was the book “Conscious Capitalism,” by John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market, and Raj Sisodia, that brought the world’s attention to the strategic value of making a positive impact on the world. Several mainstream retailers, including the Container Store, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Patagonia and Whole Foods Markets subscribe to the idea that business is about more than making a profit. It’s about higher purpose.
Rise of the socially conscious consumer
In 2011, the Nielson Company performed an international research study in 58 countries among 29,000 respondents on the “global, socially conscious consumer.” When the study was repeated in 2012, the percentage of global consumers willing to reward companies that give back to society grew by 5 percent—increasing to 50 percent from 45 percent.
Behind this emerging trend is an increase in global compassion and heightened emphasis on the way consumer goods are produced, especially a concern for the workers who are involved in making the final product. The rise of the socially conscious consumer has both a positive and negative effect on product sales.
Socially conscious consumers use their purchasing power to try to positively influence the world around them. Their decisions are based on whether a product’s positioning on issues such as the environment or method of production, align with their values, perceptions, or knowledge. They can act on their conscience in positive or negative ways, either buying a product that meets their beliefs, or boycotting a product or company that doesn’t meet their standards.
Impact of Fair Trade
As a result of the rise of the socially conscious consumer, the Fair Trade movement has grown to the status of a market segment, which, although still very small, is an area of growth and opportunity. The reason for this growth is twofold:
1. The commitment of companies such as Cadbury’s in the U.K. and Ben and Jerry’s in the U.S. to Fair Trade sourcing has proven to be a buffer to the economic downturn. Growth in Fair Trade companies in sugar and cocoa surged by 41% and 153%, respectively, while the global economy itself was stagnant.
2. Consumer awareness of Fair Trade has increased enormously in recent years with its expansion into new geographic markets and increased breadth of products offered (see Compassionate Essentials blog “Fair Trade – From Olive Oil to Elephant-Dung Paper,” April, 2013).
Compassionate Essentials and Fair Trade
Compassionate Essentials is proud to be part of the global movement toward more compassionate and socially responsible product sourcing. An example of a fair trade company is the small business set up by Danai Leosawathiphong in Thailand. His jewelry atelier employs others in his community so that they can provide for their families. One of his main objectives has been to employ women because there were very few jobs for women in the area. Another main objective has been the environment. Because the business deals with chemicals, Danai reprocess everything he uses and does not throw anything away.
Leading the Socially Conscious Starbucks Way
Socially Conscious Novica’s Fair Trade Clothing
Fair Trade & Socially Conscious Novica’s Alpaca blend wrap, ‘Brown Tweed’