This study examines consumers’ awareness of fair trade coffee and their purchase interest concerning fair trade coffee. The research uses a survey instrument that was administered through the use of a personal interview. The random sample of 200 coffee purchasers was collected in San Luis Obispo County, California. San Luis Obispo County was designated the best test market in the United States by Demographics Daily (Jackoway 2001). San Luis Obispo was found to be the best of 3,141 counties to represent a microcosm of the United States based on 33 statistical indicators. This research uses simulated test marketing research to examine consumer interest in purchasing a branded fair trade coffee and finds that the branded fair trade coffee is appealing to only a small percentage of coffee consumers. Consumers indicate that the very desirable characteristics of coffee when making a purchase decision are: is flavorful, has a rich taste, high in quality, reasonably priced, and is a good value for the money. The fair trade coffee examined in this research rates lower in consumers’ perceptions than the conventionally produced coffee of the same brand on four of the most desirable characteristics: is flavorful, has a rich taste, reasonably priced, and is a good value for the money. Thus, consumers perceive the fair trade product to be inferior.


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