Global survey on Fairtrade

Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), the global Fairtrade certification umbrella body, has commissioned the first ever global consumer survey on Fairtrade. It was carried out by GlobeScan, and involved a sample size of 14,500 people in fifteen countries.

The results are encouraging reading. The survey shows that ‘active ethical consumers’ make up just over half the population (55%) in the countries surveyed. These consumers are willing to reward or punish companies that meet, or fail to meet, their expectations, and they influence others with their opinions.

Half of the public (50%) in the fifteen countries are now familiar with the Fairtrade mark and of these people, nine out of ten (91%) trust it. The survey also shows that 64% of all consumers in the surveyed countries believe that Fairtrade has strict standards, a quality that FLO says closely correlates to consumer trust. And 72% of all consumers believe independent certification is the best way to verify a product’s ethical claims.

These levels of awareness are backed up by action, with sales holding up across the surveyed countries. Sales were up in 2008 (as compared with 2007) by 24% in Austria, by 40% in Denmark, by 57% in Finland, by 22% in France, by 75% in Sweden, by 43% in the UK and by 10% in the US.

"It is very encouraging that consumer commitment to Fairtrade remains strong in these challenging times. We are indebted to the grassroots movement who have built up solid support for Fairtrade. As a result of their efforts, global brands see Fairtrade as an important part of their strategy for the future."
– Rob Cameron, CEO of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International

The survey points to an interesting basis for Fairtrade's success. Although 33% of people learn about Fairtrade through broadcast and news media, 32% of people learn about Fairtrade through family, friends and work colleagues, and 16% hear about it through education, community and faith groups. Fairtrade's unique marketing strength, according to FLO, comes from its "loyal, dependable and global grassroots’ supporter base".

This is important. Research into the drivers and constraints to people adopting more sustainable behaviours has repeatedly shown that people are often willing to change, but they need to see others acting around them to feel their efforts are worthwhile.