Researchers from Warwick, Hull, and Sheffield universities surveyed almost 700 supermarket shoppers in the UK and found that young and old shoppers were less likely to purchase fairtrade and organic goods.
The findings, published in the Journal of Marketing Management, contradict what the authors perceive as the commonly held view that people become more ethical as they get older.
When it comes to younger people, their interest in choosing ethical produce failed to translate into buying decisions. While they recommended ethical products more than older shoppers, they were less likely to buy them, the study found.
"Marketers need to incorporate consideration of values into the marketing mix, and rethink how ethical products are offered to consumers," it says.
One of the researchers, Professor Kevin Morell, of Warwick Business School, told PRWeek: "PR agencies and in-house PR professionals need to be aware that communication around organic food and fairtrade products should be, in the main, concentrated on the middle-aged.
He went on to say: "Providing relevant information on this to a targeted middle-aged audience could be very useful for their brands and move them above their rivals in shoppers’ preferences."