There is a good trade in ethical retailing

Author: Michael Skapinker, Financial Times, Published on: 10 September 2007

Consumers have long claimed to be more virtuous than they are... Now, however, retailers are behaving as if consumers mean it. In the UK, J. Sainsbury is selling only bananas with the Fairtrade label... Marks and Spencer is stocking only Fairtrade coffee and tea and is buying a third of the world's supply of Fairtrade cotton. In the US, Dunkin' Donuts has decided to sell only Fairtrade espresso coffee... Even Wal-Mart...has devoted itself to a range of "sustainability" projects... But given that the gap between intention and purchase remains large, why do retailers make such a fuss about their commitment to sustainability, free range, fair trade and the like? Partly because they believe in it... [The] marketing impact of these initiatives is large. Sainsbury's move has attracted plenty of press coverage and the company is clearly confident it will pay off commercially. Second, by publicising their initiatives the supermarkets help consumers feel they have done the world a good deed... Finally, while supermarkets recognise that only a minority of consumers are genuinely worried about these issues, the proportion is increasing.

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Related companies: Dunkin' Donuts (part of Dunkin' Brands) Marks & Spencer Sainsbury's Walmart