This research investigates what information German Fairtrade coffee consumers search for during pre-purchase information seeking and to what extent information is retrieved. Furthermore, the sequence of the information search as well as the degree of cognitive involvement is highlighted. The role of labeling, the importance of additional ethical information and its quality in terms of concreteness as well as the importance of product price and organic origin are addressed. A set of information relevant to Fairtrade consumers was tested by means of the Information Display Matrix (IDM) method with 389 Fairtrade consumers. Results show that prior to purchase, information on product packages plays an important role and is retrieved rather extensively, but search strategies that reduce the information processing effort are applied as well. Furthermore, general information is preferred over specific information. Results of two regression analyses indicate that purchase decisions are related to search behavior variables rather than to socio-demographic variables and purchase motives. In order to match product information with consumers’ needs, marketers should offer information that is reduced to the central aspects of Fairtrade.
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