Adding Value to your Products
Sometimes people buy Fair Trade products out of charity or guilt. This is not a sustainable attitude, and does little to promote the long-term goals of Fair Trade. A more sustainable business model might include some of the following:
- Offer modern, functional products. While some people buy unique and exotic ornaments or small gifts in Fair Trade stores, one way to ensure re-orders and make the whole industry grow is by offering sustainable alternatives to everyday products. For example, offer backpacks, purses, clothing, energy drinks, hot cocoa, coffee, etc.
- Make your company transparent. Be honest and open about your business practices, how you are helping producers and how your business practices make a positive impact in the world. You can provide this information through your website, on posters, tags, brochures and catalogs. This will add legitimacy to your business and products and will form an open, trusting relationship with your customers. View our blog post on business transparency for more information.
- Bridge the gap between producer and consumer. Consumers are increasing their demand to know where their products are coming from. Through Fair Trade, consumers have access to many parts of the supply chain and are confident that each supply chain participant is being paid a fair wage and is treated with respect. Many companies attach stories about their farmers or artisans to their products to inform consumers about the creators of their products. This helps strengthen the connection between the consumer and the producer and gives each product a face and identity. Here are some suggestions on how you can display your producer stories:
- Include detailed producer stories on your website including information about the group and the significance of the art or production process.
- Include pictures of artisans crafting or farmers harvesting the end product.
- Feature producer stories on individual product tags, matching each product with the original producer.
- Display posters in your store, both next to the producers’ products and at the entrance.
- Include success stories of how Fair Trade has impacted the producers and their community.
- Become a member of an organization that shares your company’s values. Becoming a member of a third party organization shows that you are fully committed to the Fair Trade movement and sell products sourced using Fair Trade practices. The first one you should look into is the Fair Trade Federation. This trade association brings together companies fully committed to Fair Trade practices. You also have the option of joining the World Fair Trade Organization, formerly known as IFAT. Even though this is more expensive, becoming a member of this organization can help you gain global recognition. Finally, Green America (formerly known as Coop America) also brings together people interested in sustainability. Many members of the Fair Trade Federation also belong to Green America, since the values of both organizations are very similar. NOTE: FTF, TransFair USA, Green America and many other organizations hold annual conferences. These events present great opportunities to network with other businesses like yours.
- Connect with your local community. Many businesses are starting to recognize the benefits of giving back to their local communities as well as contributing to communities abroad through practices like Fair Trade. Not only can getting involved locally help a business prosper by generating community awareness, but it also provides the intangible value of satisfaction knowing that you are helping others in your community. View our blog post for ways you can help out in your community.