By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Founder of Energy PR and PrPro
I was recently listening to David Clayton-Smith, chairman of the Fairtrade Foundation, talking at easyFairs Packaging Innovations London, about the ethical consumer and brands.
David said that every year over £1bn of Fairtrade goods are sold in the UK. This figure is impressive, and its success is in no small way due to the powerful way Fairtrade has communicated its values.
So what are those values? Well as David argued, Fairtrade doesn't mean a product tastes better, (although they try to ensure that goods carrying the mark are of a certain quality). The mark simply means the product has been produced in a way that is fairer for the producer.
This value of fairness is powerful. A simple banana, with no others packaging on it, by simply carrying the very small Fairtrade sticker, suddenly conveys something to the consumer which distinguishes it from the humble, 'unstickered' banana next to it on the supermarket shelf.
Both bananas probably taste the same, but they are decidedly different as far as consumers are concerned. Indeed, in a survey a year ago, 59% of consumers said they'd prefer to buy a Fairtrade banana.
This anecdote has big repercussions for business owners.
Most of us run 'me too' businesses. We are not the only companies who can do what we do. We have competitors, and truth be told, while we may be miles better than many of them, there are probably some whose approach, range or quality is similar to our own. In short we are bananas ...lying side by side on that supermarket shelf.
The corporate winners in this "me too" world are the ones who can build some meaningful brand values into their offering; these don't need to be ethical values, they just need to be values that we truly stand for and they need to matter to our customer. It is only by getting clear about this that we can hope to be distinguished from the rest of the bunch!