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‘Taste Great or More Fulfilling’: The Effect of Brand Reputation on Consumer Social Responsibility Advertising for Fair Trade Coffee

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There are numerous retailers in the specialty coffee market that sell Fair Trade Coffee (FTC). Some retailers sell FTC to meet the demand of socially responsible consumers, some are motivated by their own concern for small coffee producers and others sell FTC because of the taste profile of a particular FTC grower's coffee. A critical question facing these retailers is how best to position FTC: as good tasting or as socially responsible? This study examines consumers' coffee preferences, their comprehension of labels, the price they are willing to pay for FTC and tests the effectiveness of advertising socially responsible consumption as primary benefit of purchasing FTC. The implications for managing company reputation and communication of social responsibility for FTC are discussed and suggestions are given for advertising strategy and management of Fair Trade products

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  1. Tully's is a major coffee chain, with over 125 stores in five states, second to Starbucks in the region and well-known to all participants in the study.

  2. For example, although TransFair USA (2007) documents 372 FTC licensees in 2004 in North America, Starbucks (2006) sold more than 10 percent of FTC worldwide.


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Appendix A

Socially Responsible Consumption (SRC) Scale (PRE-TEST 4)

  1. 1

    I'd be willing to pay more to assure that growers of agricultural products receive a fair price for their products.

  2. 2

    The benefits of modern consumer products are more important than the pollution that results from their production and use.

  3. 3

    Natural resources must be preserved even if people must do without some products.

  4. 4

    Consumers should be made to pay higher prices for products that pollute the environment.

  5. 5

    There should be an international law to make all companies pay a living wage to employees.

  6. 6

    I would be willing to sign a petition or demonstrate for an environmental cause.

  7. 7

    I would probably never join a group or club that is concerned solely with ecological issues.

  8. 8

    Free trade is more important than ensuring that farmers get a fair and stable price for their products.

  9. 9

    I think that a person should urge his/her friends not to use products that pollute or harm the environment.

  10. 10

    Commercial advertising should be forced to mention the ecological disadvantages of products.

  11. 11

    I become incensed when I think about the harm being done to plant and animal life by pollution.

  12. 12

    I'd be willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of slowing down pollution even though the immediate results may not seem significant.

Appendix B

ADS used to Promote Taste and Social Responsibility

Unfamiliar Brand/Social Responsibility Appeal:


figure d

Unfamiliar Brand/Good Taste Appeal:


figure c

Familiar Brand/Social Responsibility Appeal:


figure b

Familiar Brand/Good Taste Appeal:


figure a

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Obermiller, C., Burke, C., Talbott, E. et al. ‘Taste Great or More Fulfilling’: The Effect of Brand Reputation on Consumer Social Responsibility Advertising for Fair Trade Coffee. Corp Reputation Rev 12, 159–176 (2009).

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