Fair Trade Market Creation and marketing in the Global South

Bob Doherty, Alastair Smith, Sara Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fair Trade emerged to commercialise Southern products in the Global North on terms overtly beneficial to Southern producers. However, a contemporary phenomenon is the development of Fair Trade consumer markets within the Global South itself: and the paper explores this as a contribution to the evolving geographies of ethical consumerism. Data was captured from secondary sources and field visits that included in-depth interviews and participant observation. Analysis is informed by theories of market creation developed in economic geography and economic sociology. As such we focus on understanding 1) the architecture, or networks and institutions, of commercialisation, governance and certification and 2) the marketing practices and strategies, designed to resonate with and develop cognitive association among consumers. Given the alternative geographies of South-South vis-à-vis South-North Fair Trade, we deepen the geographical focus by applying frameworks emerging from the concept of ‘geographical entanglement’. Findings identify the similarities and differences of both Southern Fair Trade market creation and marketing compared to the European experience. In some cases, the place-based ‘othering’, often used to develop sympathetic cognitive frames in Northern marketing, is identified, but this time operates around alternative geographical binaries. In other cases, we highlight instances that avoid such divisive place-making, and which instead draw on inclusive, rather than divisive, imagined geographies, overlaid with the collective aspiration for development, pride and dignity. These findings therefore inform the nature of geographical entanglement followed by ethical market creation, as well as contributing to the wider theoretical understanding of moral geographies endogenous to the Global South.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-171
Number of pages14
Early online date11 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
EventGeoforum Workshop-Ethical Consumption in the Global South - Durham University- School of Geography, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jul 201410 Jul 2014


  • Fair Trade
  • Global South
  • Marketing
  • Geographical Entanglement
  • Market Creation

Cite this