Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 737–758 | Cite as

Does Fair Trade Breed Contempt? A Cross-Country Examination on the Moderating Role of Brand Familiarity and Consumer Expertise on Product Evaluation

  • Vera Herédia-ColaçoEmail author
  • Rita Coelho do Vale
  • Sofia B. Villas-Boas
Original Paper


This article is a within- and cross-country examination of the impact of fair trade certification on consumers’ evaluations and attitudes toward ethically certified products. Across three experimental studies, the authors analyze how different levels of brand familiarity and fair trade expertise impact consumer decisions. The authors study this phenomenon across markets with different social orientation cultures to analyze potential dissimilarities in the way consumers evaluate and behave toward ethically certified products. Findings suggest that fair trade certifications enhance product valuations. However, this effect is especially observed for low familiar brands, once the level of fair trade expertise increases. Findings also suggest that there are individual cultural differences with respect to social and environmental labeling expertise that may account for some of the unexplained variation in choice behaviors observed across countries. Results indicate that especially in more (mature) individualistic markets (vs. collectivistic) consumer ethical behavior seems to be greatly influenced by consumers’ perceptions about the eligibility of brands using (or not) fair trade. This effect is strengthened by the significant mediating role of consumers’ ethicality perceptions on the relationship between fair trade and the willingness to pay for brands.


Fair trade Product valuation Product evaluation Willingness to pay Ethical consumption Cross-cultural ethical behaviors 



Corporate social responsibility


Consumer perceived ethicality


Willingness to pay



This study was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT Portugal)—Grant Number (SFRH/BD68358/2010)—and by the Multi-Year Funding Program for R&D Units (UID/GES/00407/2013).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IPAM LisboaUniversidade Europeia, Laureate International UniversitiesLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.UCP - Católica Lisbon School of Business and EconomicsUniversidade Católica PortuguesaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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