Research Outline

Fair Trade Commerce Analysis


To find out how many people search for ethical/fair trade/socially responsible products (i.e. market size of people looking to buy from ethical companies). Additionally, to identify the top 5 marketplaces where these products are made available to such consumers/help consumers find and locate these products (i.e. top 5 platforms that allow users to search for these products). For each platform, to provide data showing the platforms size, volume, # of products, and other relevant data.

Early Findings

  • According to data published by Mintel, 45% report that they actually buy products from companies that they deem as 'ethical'.
  • Mintel also reports that "only 10 percent of consumers know what the icons for Fair Trade USA and Cruelty Free International mean." Despite this, a separate, globally focused study found that "half of the public (50%) in the fifteen countries [analyzed] are now familiar with the Fairtrade mark and of these people, nine out of ten (91%) trust it."
  • A global survey about Fairtrade conducted by GlobeScan analyzed survey results from 14,500 people across 15 countries that found that 55% of respondents are 'active ethical consumers' (i.e. "are willing to reward or punish companies that meet, or fail to meet, their expectations...")
  • According to keyword analysis tool, Jaaxy, an average of 1,241 searches for the term 'fairtrade products' occur each month and 2,698 searches for the term 'fair trade products'. Likewise, there are an average of 5,930 searches per month for the term 'fairtrade' and 6,162 searches for the term 'fair trade'. Similarly, there are an average of 997 monthly searches for the term 'ethical clothing brands'.
  • Over 88% of consumers conduct research online before buying a product.
  • Triangulation -- Market size of people looking to buy from ethical companies: An estimated 45-55% of the population based on survey data above. The U.S. population is around 330.46 million. The global population is around 7.69 billion. This equates to a market size of over 148.7 people in the U.S. and over 3.46 billion people globally. However, it should be noted that these are ball park estimate market size figures based on generalized data which do not take into account numerous variables that would logically impact the actual results.
  • Triangulation -- Market size of people searching for ethical products online: 88% of consumers research products online before buying. Triangulating this with the market size estimates above, an estimate of 130.9 million people in the U.S. who may be searching for fair trade and ethical products online; around 3 billion people globally.

Online Marketplaces That Focus On Ethical/Sustainable Shopping

  • The Little Market
  • Thrive Market
  • Done Good
  • Accompany
  • Made Trade
  • Verishop's The Responsible Shop
  • Fair Trade Winds
  • Ethica
  • Petit Your
  • Rêve En Vert
  • We Dash Love
  • Society B
  • Ten Thousand Villages

Mainstream Retailers That Carry Fair Trade

  • Aldi
  • CVS
  • Lidl
  • National Co+Op Grocers
  • Trader Joe's
  • Whole Foods

Additional Information

Results of Early Findings

  • During the initial research, we were able to locate some hard data that could be used to triangulate an estimate of market sizes related to consumers to who buy from ethical companies and who are searching for these products online.
  • A significant number of fair trade "marketplaces" have been identified in the early findings. Additional research is needed in order to identify which ones are considered to be the "top 5". One challenge in conducting this research is that it isn't clear what sort of "marketplaces" should be included in this analysis as there are a wide variety of e-commerce and retail businesses that could logically fall under this umbrella term. Therefore, to proceed with this research, it is recommended that we focus on e-commerce marketplaces that focus specially/exclusively on fair trade/ethical products. This focus will ignore mainstream marketplace giants such as Amazon as part of the competitive landscape which would likely otherwise be included in the top 5. It will also exclude other mainstream e-commerce retailers that offer fair trade products in addition to general products.
  • To present the competitive landscape, we can compile data into this spreadsheet.