Purchasing Power: An Investigation of the Ethical Consumer and Affinity Markets in Ontario

Sumac Workers’ Co-operative, a worker-owned co-op in Guelph, Ontario, has recently launched WearFair, a new wholesale brand of Fair Trade certified t-shirts. They are unique in that both the labour and the agricultural production is certified Fair Trade. The proposed research would be to conduct preliminary and follow-up interviews and a survey of potential customers within 1) current Fair Trade consumers, 2) consumers who are either employees of, or otherwise engaged with, affinity organizations and 3) with members of the general public who are currently not involved with Fair Trade. The purpose of this research is to determine the size and scope of the market, the types of consumers who are interested in expanding their range of Fair Trade purchases as well as to develop an understanding of how these consumers understand Fair Trade as an alternative to so-called regular trade. The expectation is that this research will fill gaps regarding the depth of awareness of consumers and how to engage them to become more involved with Fair Trade. It will also form the basis of Sumac’s future marketing strategy for the WearFair brand.

Faculty Supervisor:

M. Darryl Reed


Jacqueline Solomon


Sumac Workers' Co-op


Urban studies




York University



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