Background and context
The modern business environment could be characterised by the unique diversity and tendency towards the globalisation. However, at the moment, we could observe the overwhelming prevalence of a small number of companies and the dominance of western economies when developing states have few opportunities to enter the international market because of the high level of rivalry and monopoly of international corporations. However, this environment and the lack of opportunities for the further rise introduce limits for these states development and slow down the paces of their economic growth. For this reason, the idea of fair trade appears.
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It is a social movement that tends to assist developing countries in achieving better trading conditions and the promotion of sustainable farming (What is fairtrade? n.d.). Nevertheless, we could state that the project is devoted to the comprehensive investigation of the most important aspects of fair trade in the UK. The choice of bananas as the main object of the investigation is preconditioned by the great popularity of this product, its widespread, and nutrition value. Moreover, bananas are one of the agricultural plants that are manufactured in developing states. The simplicity of this plants cultivation, transportation, and storage makes it the main export article for states that grow it (Elliot 2012). For this reason, the choice of bananas seems rather logical in terms of the investigation of the basic factors impacting fair trade in the UK.
Scope and Objectives
At the moment we could observe the rapid evolution of fair trade and the increased level of attention given to it. The last several decades could be characterised by the shift of priorities towards the provision of support to developing states. The change of the main vector of the global economys evolution could be explained by the fact that there are many resources, both human and natural that could be explored to obtain significant incomes and create the basis for the further rise of these regions economies which will also have the great positive impact on the global economy.
Moreover, there is also a constant search for new sources of incomes as the old ones might become less efficient in the modern environment. For this reason, the UK as one of the most powerful states engaged in the fair trade initiative provides improved trading conditions to developing states and hopes for the further rise of its economy. At the moment, there are products like coffee, cocoa, textile, bananas, sugar, and other mainly agricultural goods could be found in the UKs market, shops. Thus, the overall fair-trade sales generated more than $992 million in producer revenues and continued to grow (Fairtrade by the numbers n.d.). For this reason, it becomes an important phenomenon that should not be disregarded.
Thus, the main objective of this project is to research the relevant data related to the peculiarities of fair trade in the United Kingdom and the main factors that impact its evolution and development. Considering the fact that there are different products sold in term of this social movement, bananas are chosen as the main object of the investigation. For this reason, the main research question sounds like:
What factors influence consumers choice when purchasing fair trade bananas, in the UK?
As it comes from the given question, investigation of the main tendencies in modern society and individuals peculiarities impacting their choice becomes the main aim of the given project. The increased complexity of social relations and the existence of unique features of peoples mentalities that might affect consumers and their desire to buy certain goods result in the necessity to collect personal data that could help to make a conclusion about the prevailing factors the impact the choice.
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In the course of the project, we managed to investigate the main tendencies related to the evolution of fair trade in the UK, customers behaviour related to it, and facts impacting their choice. The credible data was collected using a specially created survey. It was used to outline the main tendencies in the given sphere and determine the perspectives for its further development and evolution.
Overview of the Dissertation
The given dissertation consists of the introduction, literature review, description of the research methodology and evaluation of the main findings. The paper provides specific graphs to demonstrate the main tendencies in the sphere and create the ground for the discussion. At the end of the document, a conclusion is given and the scope of the future work outlined.
The chapter provides a brief overview of the relevant data found in different sources. It consists of Background, Aspects of Fair Trade, Customers choice, Perspectives sections and assists in the improved comprehending of the theoretical framework.
According to the latest statistical data, the consumption of fair trade products has grown significantly in the UK (FLO 2009a; FLO 2009b; FLO 2009d). At the moment, it could be considered one of the greatest markets of fair trade goods that provide opportunities for developing countries to obtain extra incomes and guarantee their growth (EFTA 2009). The table below demonstrates the increased importance of fair trade for the UK (see Fig. 1). The given process could also be explained by the significant shifts in peoples mentalities and the rise of ethical and political concerns (Benjamin 2006). Consumers start to think that sources of products are also important and buying certain goods they could support developing states (Blackwell & Miniard 2001).
For this reason, we could observe the appearance of new consumer behaviours characterised by the ethical inclinations and moral grounds that precondition a certain choice (Lyon, 2006; Golding & Peattie 2004). Carrigan and Attalla (2001) state that ethics is a significant factor that should be considered when planning and analysing consumer behaviour. A common customer uses specific decision-making techniques that help him/her to make a choice and decide which product to buy. Besides, the decision-making process is obviously impacted by a set of subjective factors and ethical considerations which are an integral part of a persons worldview and consumer behaviour. In this regard, every day a buyer faces an ethical dilemma when deciding which product to buy. This fact has a significant impact on the evolution of fair trade initiative in the world.
The rise of fair trade in the UK could be associated with the increased popularity of the ideas of progressivism and the desire to improve living conditions in states suffering from poverty (Low & Davenport 2007). Trying to show their positive attitude to this idea and provide at least some support to emerging nations, British people willingly engage in the fair trade initiative and feel themselves a part of the global discourse. European Fair Trade organisation states that in 2012-2013 fair trade sales generated $992 million for people working in the given sphere (see Fig. 2 ). It means that people from developed states invested in the economies of countries suffering from different problems (Keller 2005). This fact is obviously taken as one of the great advantages of fair trade that precondition its further rise and popularisation among people.
The high pace of the evolution of this phenomena is also preconditioned by the massnvolvement of numerous states characterised by the high buying power of its citizens. The world statistics show that states like the USA, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, etc. try to support the given practice and contribute to its spread all over the world (Facts and figures about fairtrade n.d.).
Aspects of Fair Trade
As for the UK, products certified by fair trade and characterised by specific quality remain consistently popular (Ajzen 1988). However, to be certified in accordance with fair trade standards, a product has to meet conditions outlined by the European Fair Trade organisation (FLO 2009c). Besides, an autonomous and independent international company known as Fair Trade Labelling Organisation investigates the main conditions under which a certain product is manufactured and makes its final conclusion. Only after such sort of examination a product might appear in the UK (Who we are n.d). Besides, the states great involvement in the given process could also be explained by the comparatively long history of cooperation between the UK and main exporters of fair trade products (Key industry facts n.d).
The concept of fair trade appeared in 1950 when a Dutch developing agency suggested a unique trade label that could be used for products with unique characteristics (Who we are n.d). Despite the fact that coffee was the first product that got this label, many other goods like cotton, cocoa, bananas, etc. soon became part of this practice (FT-DK 2009b). Hence, the popularity of these very products could be explained using a historical context. The fact is that the cultivation of these plants demands specific climate conditions that could be found in states participating in fair trade. Therefore, in a certain period of their history, these very countries were turned in colonies and used as a raw material base. This fact impacted their further evolution, and at the moment the given sphere of the industry still remains one of the main sources of incomes for them.
Besides, the adherence to this very practice showed that a manufacturer would be able to get a fair price for his/her products despite complex market conditions (FLO 2009b). Several sources also outline the fact that environmental considerations also became an important factor that impacted the rise of the popularity of fair trade in the UK (Carrigan & Attalla 2001; EFTA 2009). For instance, FLO (2009d) introduces specific demands to farmers considering the use of fertilisers, pesticides, and other chemicals. In case the given requirements are not met, a product will not be included in the fair trade (Facts and figures n.d.). That is why the majority of goods provided to the UKs consumers in terms of the fair trade initiative could be characterised by an outstanding quality (Who we are n.d.). According to the research, in the UK the fairest trade products include coffee, tea, bananas, sugar, cotton, and honey (see Fig. 4 below) (Consumer issues n.d.).
The figure shows that coffee and bananas comprise the majority of the whole export performed in terms of fair trade. However, the per cent of other goods is also significant. This fact only proves the above-mentioned assumption that outlines the increased importance of fair trade and a great number of goods imported to the UK in its terms. In case the given practice is not explored, UK consumers will obviously feel food shortages. Considering the fact that the UK is one of the main contributors to the development of the given practice (FLO 2009e), the importance of the choice of these very products increases (FT-DK 2009a; EFTA 1998; EFTA 2009). International agencies state the consumers in the UK might determine the evolution of fair trade by their own preferences and personal attitudes (FLO 2009e). For this reason, the investigation of the main factors that might impact consumers choice and make them buy one or another product becomes a central task for a researcher who analyses the given issue.
The literature devoted to the examination of consumer behaviour and factors that might impact their choice outlines the fact that family values, religion, peculiarities of mentality, and other factors might have a great influence on the choice of one or another product (FLO 2009c). At the same time, they are also characterised by the increased comprehending of the main aspects of fair trade and its main purposes (see Fig. 5).
The greater part of the population of the UK understand the meaning of the fair trade symbol and benefits it guarantees to farmers (Elliot 2012; Ferran & Grunert, 2007). Buying fair-trade bananas, individuals are sure that this money will be used to sponsor farmers in countries where the agricultural sector is one of the main sources of revenues. Additionally, Figure 5 also shows that UK consumers are sure that independent classification is the main factor that could help to verify ethical claims and create the basis for the further evolution of the fair trade initiative in the country. Therefore, huge supermarket chains like Sainsburys also participate in the given practice and recognise benefits it might guarantee to them. Altogether, the tendency towards the appearance of the positive attitude to fair trade products, in general, becomes obvious and it creates the ground for the further discussion of the given issue. For this reason, we could speak about the conscious choice that is preconditioned by a set of factors (Foxall, Goldsmith & Brown 1998; East 1997).
First of all, it is an environmental concern. The tendency towards the adherence to environmentally friendly practices along with the improved understanding of their importance resulted in the increased attention to floods, deforestation, global warming, etc. (East 1997). Fairtrade is considered one of the ways to improve the situation (Elliot 2012). Blackwell and Miniard (2001) state that the main aim of any purchase is to satisfy physiological and psychological needs. For this reason, the clear understanding of the main factors impacting this choice might help to trace the evolution of the demand for fair trade products including bananas and customers motifs (Arbnor & Bjerke 1997; Blackwell & Miniard 2001). Besides, when buying foreign products, consumers adhere to specific decision-making patterns, trying to analyse the consequences of their choice (Fishbein & Ajzen 1975). Studies also show that ethnocentric consumers prefer to buy home-made products (Hair et al. 2005) when individuals with global thinking might consider foreign goods an appropriate alternative to others (Foxall, Goldsmith & Brown, 1998).
Furthermore, a person might also refuse a certain product because of its origin (Flick 2006) or under the impact of cultural aspects (Golding & Peattie 2004). For instance, an individual might not want to buy Italian goods because of his/her personal negative attitude to the state (Blumberg, Cooper & Schindler 2005). It becomes obvious that the consideration of all above-mentioned factors is crucial when providing products to specific markets. Investigation of these aspects also becomes vital. It helps to create a certain forecast related to the further evolution of the factors that might impact customers choice and their desire to buy certain goods. Thus, at the moment, we could observe the tendency towards the acceptance and consumption of goods that were manufactured abroad (EFTA 2009). The given alteration of consumer behaviour introduces the positive setting for the evolution of fair trade and an increase in the level of demand. Moreover, mass media and other resources functioning also preconditions the increase in the popularity of this relatively new practice. For this reason, the UK is one of the main consumers of fair trade goods in the world at the moment (Out impact story n.d..), and the level of demand continues to increase.
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Nevertheless, speaking about the perspectives of the fair trade in the region and the demand for bananas, as the main object of our investigation, the theoretical foundations of the Planned Behaviour model and its peculiarities should be explored. Besides, bananas are one of the most popular products among customers (Facts and figures n.d.). The combination of useful characteristics, taste, and price makes this plant an integral part of the menu of the majority of people living in the UK. However, the cultivation of the plant demands specific climate conditions and, that is why it should be imported from other states.
At the same time, it is not a complex process, and a high level of competence is not demanded. In this regard, bananas become an optimal choice for countries participating in fair trade. Furthermore, the search for new sources of incomes combined with a great need for the reconsideration of modern relations should be considered other factors that precondition the further rise of this very initiative. The increased paces of the globalisation improve the terms of the cooperation between states and also outline the existence of serious problems related to the evolution of different states. For this reason, the further development of fair trade seems inevitable as it is an integral part of the modern international discourse and framework that incorporates progressivism and humanism. The same deals with the UK and its economy.
The given part provides a description and justification of the methodology which is used to investigate the issue and obtain credible results. There is also information about sampling, limitations, analysis of the results, and aptitude of the approach explored in terms of the project. It consists of seven sections which are Methodology, Quantitative, Qualitative, How approach fits the design, Sampling, Limitations, Analysis of results.
Considering the peculiarities of the project, a specific methodology to collect the needed data should be suggested. One should perfectly realise the fact that the usage of the relevant information is one of the key factors that determine the credibility of findings and contributes to the improved final outcomes. For this reason, the choice of appropriate methodology becomes crucial. To collect the data, the survey based on answers and notes of consumers in two shops was created. The questions in the study are designed to improve the comprehending of the issue and guarantee a clear understanding of the main aspects that the UK consumers consider when buying fair trade bananas.
Thus, the above-mentioned tool is considered one of the quantitative methods that are needed to collect numerical data related to the peculiarities of a certain phenomenon. For this reason, the survey was conducted in a way that helped to collect the most important statistical data related to consumers. The investigation of the given data might help to determine the structure of the category that prefers buying fair trade bananas. In this regard, the survey asks a participant to indicate sex, gender, and age. These data will be used to create certain groups characterised by specific preferences and determine their attitude to the suggested product. Moreover, the survey also touches upon the level of incomes to trace the correlation between the annual revenues and personal preferences related to fair trade bananas. For this reason, the usage of the quantitative method is crucial for the study. Additionally, the analysis of the relevant literature performed in the previous section is one of the methods that are expected to provide relevant statistical data related to the popularity of fair trade, its major concerns, etc.
However, the main aim of the project is to determine the factors that impact consumers choice and behaviour. For this reason, the qualitative methods of the research should be explored. Besides, the survey created on the basis of customers answers also contains questions that will help to collect personal data related to the aspects that impact peoples choice and precondition their adherence to fair trade bananas. For this reason, the above-mentioned survey could also be considered a qualitative tool that is introduced to analyse this sort of data. Besides, the respondents are asked what factors impact their choice when buying fair trade bananas, what attitude they have to the increased popularity of the practice, and whether they are satisfied with the quality of suggested goods or not. The given data is needed to determine the main factors impacting peoples choice and perspectives related to the evolution of fair trade bananas in the UK.
How Approach Fits the Design
As it becomes obvious, the usage of both qualitative and quantitative methodology in the research means that the mixed method that incorporates these approaches is chosen. The preference given to this very way of data collection could be easily explained by the peculiarities of the study, its main goals, and desired outcomes. The main research question is to determine the factors that impact customers choice and preferences. For this reason, the usage of the quantitative approach only will not help to collect personal data. At the same time, to trace the evolution of a certain phenomenon within a country, community, or a group of people statistical data is needed. That is why quantitative methods should also be used to process the statistical data and provide the forecast related to the further evolution of fair trade in the UK. In this regard, the chosen approach fits the study design and contributes to the increased credibility of the findings.
As for the sampling technique, there are several peculiarities that preconditioned the usage of purposive sampling. First of all, as the given research is aimed at the investigation of the main factors that impact the choice of fair trade bananas, only consumers with experience with fair trade bananas are recommended for the study. They will provide personal data related to the peculiarities of the above-mentioned choice and contribute to the increased credibility of the final results. Moreover, a sample size should also be determined as it affects the overall success of the whole project and helps to demonstrate certain tendencies in the population (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2015). Given that, a sample size of 60 respondents was chosen for the research. They were suggested to complete a survey and contribute to the improved understanding of the main peculiarities of the given research question.
However, there are also several limitations that come from the character of the suggested research project. First of all, the number of participants is limited. It is difficult to engage great masses because of the impossibility to process significant torrents of data that will come from their surveys. Moreover, we are also limited in the choice of respondents as only people who have certain experience with fair trade bananas might take part in the research. Additionally, the usage of the survey that consists of a limited number of questions could be considered another limitation of the given project
Analysis of results
The participants responses should be collected and processed to answer the suggested research question and present this data in an appropriate way. For this reason, the usage of visuals is strongly recommended. Answers to the most crucial questions will be analysed and presented in the form of graphs, diagrams, or tables. The usage of the given pattern will obviously contribute to the improved comprehending of the final outcomes and make the paper easier to understand and navigate for a common reader.
The chapter consists of two sections which are Findings and Main Tendencies and Perspectives. It presents the results of data collection, their structuring and processing. The chapter also contains graphs which are needed to improve the comprehending of the issue.
The survey is the main tools that are created to investigate the main points of the given issue and provide credible results related to is perspectives. This very research was conducted among 60 respondents (37 females, 23 males) who were asked to complete the forms suggested to them. To attain the increased credibility of research findings, the pilot version of the survey was tested on customers of a certain shop. It helped to determine the most important questions and include them in the final version which was distributed between respondents. The results show that they belong to four age groups 18-22, 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54 years. The biggest one is 25-34 (22 individuals) which could be explained by the great social activity of this very group and involvement in different projects. Additionally, the fact that representatives of these age groups comprise the majority of respondents also contributes to the great significance of the final data as they could be considered the main contributors to the further evolution of the state.
The level of incomes also differs. As one can see in Fig. 7, the majority of respondents are characterised by the annual income of £25,000-£49,999 per year (25 respondents). The given group does not belong to the privileged class, and in percentage, correlation comprises the bigger part of the population of the UK. This fact helps to trace the evolution of the attitude to fair trade and apply it to the rest of the population. However, individuals with the level of incomes £200,000 and up were not included in the investigation as they were inaccessible. It could be explained by the fact that very often representatives of this very group do not go shopping by themselves. They have special workers responsible for their menu. That is why the data related to their choices and preferences remain inaccessible and could not be discussed.
The bigger part of respondents (50 individuals) stated their positive attitude to fair trade bananas, 6 were neutral, and only 4 people had a negative attitude.
The survey also demonstrates that the majority of respondents have a neutral first reaction to the product (75%). At the same time the number of positive and negative reactions was almost equal (see Fig. 9)
Furthermore, the data collected through the survey also indicates that socio-cultural factors, price, the quality, and personal preferences are the main aspects the impact customers choice and precondition their positive attitude to fair trade bananas. However, there were also other points like personal attitude or social stereotypes (see Fig. 10) that impacted consumers choice and which should be taken into the consideration when discussing the results of the study.
We could also admit the great quality of the suggested products as the majority of respondents (43) were very satisfied with fair trade bananas (see Fig. 11). At the same time, there were no negative answers.
Furthermore, 46 individuals would rather prefer buying fair trade bananas than others, and only 14 stated that there was no difference for them. Additionally, thirteen respondents would hardly recommend these goods to their friends, when the rest of the consumers (47) would probably do it. Finally, 30 individuals want fair trade to evolve in the region, 15 are against it, and 15 are not interested in the given issue.
Main tendencies and perspectives
Having investigated the results of the study, we could come to the conclusion that the attitude to the fair trade bananas is overall positive. People have good expectations related to the quality of the suggested product and its price. Additionally, the majority of people aged from 18 to 44, who could be considered the most active buyers, are satisfied with the evolution of fair trade in the region. This group is also characterised by the stable level of incomes, which means that they will contribute to the increased number of fair trade bananas. However, the direct correlation between the revenues and preferences in fair trade was not observed. As for the main factors that impact customers choice opinions divided. Socio-cultural factors, price, quality, and personal preferences became the main causes of giving preferences to fair trade bananas.
It means that in the majority of cases consumers use the same approach they use to other products when buying fair trade bananas. However, the presence of the socio-cultural factor in the list also indicates that individuals might take into account the country of origin and their contribution to the evolution of fair trade in the UK. The high level of satisfaction with the quality of the suggested goods indicates that a set of measures introduced to monitor the quality of fair trade products remain efficient. We stated above that quality concerns are one of the main factors that impact the rise of the popularity of this practice in the UK. In this regard, the data related to the customers satisfaction with the quality becomes extremely crucial as it could be used as the evidence to the further popularisation of fair trade in the state. Moreover, considering the alteration of the attitude to this product from neutral (see fig. 9) to positive (people were satisfied with the product), we could assume that there is the tendency towards the positive shifts in the attitude to fair trade bananas.
The given survey helped us to gather the information needed for the comprehensive investigation of the issue and its discussion. Processing the given data we could state that the results were mainly predictable. The majority of the respondents were sure that participating in fair trade they would obviously help this world to become better.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The given chapter summarizes and evaluates the information presented in the dissertation and the main research findings obtained in the course of the investigation. It repeats the objectives of the paper and describes the way the main tasks were accomplished. Additionally, future plans are also outlined.
Altogether, we could observe the blistering evolution of fair trade worldwide and in the UK. At the moment the country is one of the main importers of products manufactured in states which participate in this initiative. The adherence to this very practice is expected to support emerging nations and help them to improve the state of their economies. This factor could be considered an important aspect that impacts consumers choice and preferences. At the moment, there is a certain set of goods which are imported to different states all over the world in terms of fair trade. These are coffee, sugar, honey, cotton, etc. The survey conducted in terms of the project shows that people are satisfied with the quality of the product and will continue buying it. A product labelled with this very mark possesses a set of qualities that make its price relevant.
This very fact obviously impacts customers choice and, the conducted survey proves it. UK customers choice is also impacted by price, socio-cultural factors, and personal preferences. Considering the fact that the majority of the respondents belonged to social groups characterised by average incomes, the price was an important aspect that preconditioned their choice. Besides, fair trade bananas are cheap, and they are characterised by high quality. As for the socio-cultural factors, UK people who support the given initiative have an increased level of social activity and realise the way this mechanism works. In this regard, their choice is impacted by the desire to show the attitude to the manufacturers of fair trade bananas and also feel an important part of the international discourse. Finally, personal preferences might also play a great role in the decision-making process The survey shows that 17% of respondents followed their attitude and preferments and described them as the main factor impacted their choice.
Besides, a stated in section 1.2 Scope and Objectives The main aim of the project is to research the relevant data related to the peculiarities of fair trade in the United Kingdom and the main factors that impact its evolution and development. Additionally, it was also crucial to determine the aspects that impact consumers choices in the UK. In the course of the investigation, we managed to obtain the data which describes these main factors and explains tendencies peculiar to the given sphere. In such a manner, quality, price, personal preferences, and socio-cultural factors are called the main drivers that impact consumers choices and precondition the rise of fair trade in the UK. Using the data presented in section 4.2 Findings we obviously managed to prove the fact that fair trade still evolves and positive perspectives related to the further rise of this practice are discovered. Consumers prefer to buy fair trade bananas more often in case the fair trade label is noted. Altogether, we managed to achieve the outlined goal and conduct research that resulted in the improved comprehending of the major concerns related to the fair trade and consumers behaviours in the UK. The task was accomplished at the high level and our finding does not contradict to the theoretical data provided in the literature review section.
However, as we have already stated (see section 3.7 Limitations) there are certain limitations in our study which introduce the necessity of further improvement. To enhance the credibility of findings, it is vital to work with a large population and increase sampling size as well as the number of questions in the survey. The given approach will help to cover more layers of the population and assess their attitudes to the fair trade practice. Furthermore, additional questions will contribute to the comprehensive examination of other factors impacting customers, their behaviour, and preferences, which were not touched upon before. The results of our study coincide with the main tendencies outlined in section 2.4 Customers choice and prove the great popularity of fair trade in the UK. Altogether, we should state that the project was successful and the majority of tasks were accomplished as planned. However, there also were certain problems related to the survey design, its distribution, and data collection. For this reason, it is crucial to engage more respondents and create efficient ways of information exchange.
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