Exploring the role of emotions during the Fair Trade shopping experience
The concept of consuming ethically, defined as that which benefits people, animals and the environment, has been experiencing a revival over the last few decades. Likewise, the fair trade movement is experiencing growth but its market share remains low as compared to other ethical products and the market as a whole. Although consumers hold positive attitudes towards fair trade, research shows not many buy such products due to several barriers which inhibit greater purchasing including low levels of consumer awareness, scepticism, a lack of information and perceptions of pricing.
In order to facilitate greater consumption, research has explored the role of various factors on fair trade decision-making. Studies have investigated the influence of attitudes, social norms and perceived behavioural control, beliefs, values, knowledge and information on consumption. No study has so far, however, been carried out on the role of emotions and place of purchase on fair trade purchase behaviour. Research confirms that emotions are felt about the consumption of products, services and experiences. Studies have also established that the shopping experience induces emotions in shoppers which in turn influence their behaviour. This present study, therefore, explores the role of emotions felt during the fair trade shopping experience on shopper behaviour.
A structured questionnaire was employed to collect consumer data across six fair trade stores on the basis of empirically testing a set of propositions. Data thus collected reveals positive emotions to have been experienced more intensely than negative ones. Of the emotions, respected and peacefulness were shown to be the most intensely felt during the fair trade shopping experience. The results also showed fear influencing the time spent in store but in a positive direction, contentment affecting the amount spent in store positively but optimism negatively, and positive emotions influencing patronage intentions. Furthermore, the results revealed that participation influences shopper emotions such that those in the high group experienced greater levels of ?contentment?, ?empathy?, ?gratitude?, ?joy? and ?optimism?, and lower levels of ?frustration? compared to those in the low group. These findings confirm that the emotions felt during the fair trade shopping experience influence shopper behaviour and that participation affects shopper emotions. Further investigation still needs to be conducted to better understand the role of emotions on fair trade consumption and decision-making.
This study makes a significant contribution to literature through several key findings related to the emotions felt during the fair trade shopping experience, the influence of emotions on behaviour and the effect of participation on shopper emotions. Since the influence of emotions on fair trade consumption was so far purely anecdotal, this study confirms the proposition that consumption of the fair trade shopping experience evokes emotions which influence shopper behaviour. The results of this thesis, therefore, contribute significantly to both fair trade and retail literature and raise important implications for theory and industry. The findings from this research highlight major implications for fair trade retailers particularly. It would be valuable to add the emotion measure to future fair trade decision-making models to determine whether and how explanatory power can be improved. Further research should also investigate the role of emotions in the Theory of Planned Behaviour on fair trade consumption.