Date of Conferral
Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
Dorothy M. Hanson
Low consumer loyalty threatens the sustainability of the fair trade (FT) coffee market and corporate social responsibility investment. To provide business owners with strategies and decision-making processes to market FT coffee products successfully in the United States, this phenomenological study explored the lived experiences, perceptions, and insights of 20 FT coffee marketing managers. Planned behavior theory served as the conceptual framework. Face-to-face or Skype interviews were conducted with each of the 20 purposefully sampled FT coffee marketing managers. The data from these interviews were analyzed using Moustakas' modified van Kaam method and qualitative analytic software to collect, group, reduce, validate, and organize the interview data into themes. Nine themes emerged from the analyses. The theme analysis revealed the importance of including consumer education as a part of a marketing strategy to improve consumer understanding of the FT label and to catalyze demand. Based upon the topics participants emphasized during the interviews, another principal theme was the importance of establishing a direct relationship with a farm. Furthermore, 2 of the 20 participants provided unique insights on achieving consumer trust and the importance consumers attribute to consistent taste. Educating consumers on the effects and implications of the FT label is instrumental in increasing profits from FT coffee. The findings could catalyze beneficial social change by enabling business owners to educate consumers through marketing communications, which increase their market share of FT coffee and thereby enhance the lives of third-world farmers.