Generation Fairtrade: Bridging the Trust Gap

As Fairtrade celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, what does the future look like in the hands of the generation who have grown up with Fairtrade?
Following on from our first blog on young consumers’ demand for sustainable products and their views on the future for Fairtrade, we switch focus now to look at young people’s expectations of business.
The infographic below highlights some of the findings from our recent study with UK teenagers (aged 13-20 years old) focused on the role of companies in society.
We found that the majority of this young audience believes that companies need to operate more ethically and responsibly than they do today (82%). Young people are just as switched on to global issues as older generations and are highly engaged.
Faced with an array of negative news stories from across the world, from the Rana Plaza disaster to horsemeat, from energy prices to corporate tax avoidance, teenagers want to have a say on the role of companies and organizations like Fairtrade as they step into adulthood.
Despite their high expectation of companies, less than half of the UK teens surveyed (45%) actually trust companies to deliver and to behave more ethically and responsibly.
Looking to the future, just 10% of Generation Fairtrade believes that governments and businesses will improve conditions to the extent that the Fairtrade movement will become redundant. This demonstrates a clear mandate for Fairtrade, peer organisations and NGOs to work alongside business to address the pressing social and environmental issues in global supply chains, with which businesses and governments are struggling.
GlobeScan’s 2014 Radar findings similarly demonstrate a lack of trust in both global and national business to operate in the best interests of society, amongst adult populations. The need for partnerships outside the corporate world is supported by higher trust ratings for NGOs and for scientific/academic research bodies.
Today’s significant trust gap in the minds of young people represents a hurdle for business to overcome as they look forward to a new wave of more proactive consumers, like The Aspirationals. By engaging young people in new, more responsible models for doing business, with partnerships at the core, companies can start to build deeper trust with this new wave of young adult citizens and consumers.
The third and final blog in this series will look at Generation Fairtrade as activists, willing to take action to spread the word and get involved in good causes.

click to enlarge