By Reach Brands

Fairtrade has made it to the top 10 most desirable brands as voted by consumers, clinching position number 9/300, and seeing off the likes of Apple, Agent Provocateur, Innocent, Aston Martin, Gucci and Chanel. Clear, the agency that uncovered this finding also benchmarked the ‘Top 100 UK most desirable brands’ against international index The S&P 500, and the results show that the average return on investment for a company that owns a desirable brand is 12.8%, versus 7.5% for The S&P 500 as a whole.*

There are more Fairtrade, and similarly ethically sourced products, widely available in the large multiples than ever before*. Plus Fairtrade sales rose 12% in a tough 2010 – a faster growth compared to the wider market.**

So it seems that somehow, in the midst of all the penny-pinching caused by the recession, consumers still want brands to position products as ethically sound. And Fairtrade is not a badge-slap, but a high-performing valuable brand in its own right, that in the eyes of the consumer can bring real value to yours.


What’s going on out there?

Of course!

Bananas. Tea. Coffee.


Harry Hill endorsed Harry’s Nuts. The brand positioning is fun and wacky, and the products appear to come directly from Harry with pictures of him on pack. And the personalised note on the back of the pack explaining the product concept – reading: “I’m mad about nuts and nuts about Fairtrade so I went out to Malawi… don’t worry I don’t make any money out of this…” is unique and unusual but it sort of works. It’s also one of the strongest, most direct Fairtrade communications that we have spotted on pack.


There are limited fair trade options in drinks (tropical juices, South American wines, rums etc) and sugar products.

And there are still opportunities for bigger brands to embrace it, such as Lavazza coffee and Uncle Ben’s Rice. Also, retailers could launch more Fairtrade products across all categories.

What to ask

What should you be asking yourselves and your consumers if you are thinking of embracing the Fairtrade trend within your organisation’s NPD? Here is a selection of questions inspired by three brands that are working the trend:

Harry’s Nuts

  • How can we communicate the Fairtrade proposition in a way that fits with our brand character?
  • How can we be sure that we communicate in a way that is more than ‘just jumping on the bandwagon’? For example, the note from Harry Hill on the back of pack.
  • Should we make Fairtrade standard for our brand or should we keep a cheaper standard product option?
  • Can I charge a premium for the Fairtrade product versus my standard product? If so, how much? And will our consumers see this as cynical?


Tilda Pure Original Basmati Rice

  • Do we need to become an official Fairtrade product? Or can we create our own ‘ethically sourced’ communication? For example Tilda front of pack copy says: “We select this unique fragrant and delicate Basmati from over 10,000 independent farmers whom we know by name.”
  • If we don’t adopt the Fairtrade brand logo, are our claims about being ethically sourced compelling and credible?


Good Earth organic Fairtrade tea & Good Earth Organic Jasmine Blossom Tea

  • Do we need to make ethically sourced claims explicitly or is it enough to just ‘look ethical’?
  • Can all my variants be Fairtrade? Is there a negative effect on those that can’t be ‘badged’ as Fairtrade? Or will the Fairtrade variants have a halo effect on the non-Fairtrade ones?


PG Tips

  • If we do make ethically sourced claims, are we watertight – can we back them up?
  • What does the consumer understand about Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance? And which is more compelling?
  • What do I expect this to do for my brand? Attract new consumers? Or build brand values with existing consumers?
*Fairtrade is number 9 in the “Top 100 UK desirable brands”; Ehrmanns Wine; 28.01.11 and Raise the temperature: How to increase ‘brand desire’ and get your customers hot under the collar; by Lucy Handley; Marketing Week; 20.01.11
**Fairtrade Foundation – Facts and Figures on Fairtrade
***Fair trade sales rise 12% despite ‘difficult year’; The Guardian; 22.02.10