How do you feel when you see the Fair Trade aisle at the store?
If you’re like most people - you feel guilty. At best, you buy something to expiate your sins. More likely, you steer your cart the other way while momentarily feeling bad for the nine year-old who assembled your iPhone. After an extensive research we discovered the following:
The audience needs education - even savvy consumers have a hard time finding us - but they do not need, or want, a lecture. The tendency in this category is to scold or to scare. It can be effective, but it can also be a turnoff. The conversation tends to skew toward telling consumers all the things they shouldn’t be doing, as opposed to telling them all the things they could be getting.
So. Instead of telling our audience about impoverished farmers or corporate frankenfoods - something they’re already aware of and quite likely desensitized to - we invited them to celebrate fair trade.
When you buy yourself higher quality (and, yes, more expensive) fairly-traded products, you feel good. And you should feel good. You’re helping real people in a real way. And you’re getting better value for your money. That’s worth celebrating.
The overall strategy is highly conducive to inclusiveness and participation at every level. From inviting artists to design point-of-purchase collateral to sponsoring a fairly-traded cotton fashion design competition, everything we say and do is couched in the language of festivity. (What a great phrase. Wouldn’t you like to be couched in the language of festivity? Sure beats a lecture.) The point is - this work changes the conversation from “Do this or else you’ll feel bad,” to “If you do this, you’ll feel good.”