Tips To Sell Fair Trade More Effectively

SETU-The Bridge To Artisans has its customer’s interests always in mind. We want to help our partner retailers sell Fair Trade products, and for that we have created the following tips. If you have any doubts, please contact us at marketing@setufairtrade.com so we can help you out with your needs.

Communications and display tips

Choosing to carry Fair Trade products means you are taking a great step towards contributing to an effort to eliminate poverty and promote sustainability. To further promote the cause, here are some tips to help you sell Fair Trade products more effectively. These bits of advice can help you move Fair Trade products faster, and educate your salespeople and your customers:

  • Understand Fair Trade. Having a strong knowledge about Fair Trade will give you the skills to inform customers effectively and give your company credibility. You will find information about this in our About Fair Trade page.
  • Understand your customers. Ask your customers casual questions such as what they are looking to buy or if they need help finding anything. Knowing your customers’ preferences will give you ideas on how to introduce them to purchasing a Fair Trade alternative.
  • Educate your customers. This will help customers understand why Fair Trade products are socially and environmentally responsible and how their purchase contributes.
  • Create a visual impact in your store or your website. Marketing materials featuring individual artisans or farmers will let customers to see who makes the Fair Trade products. You can find examples of our posters here or get the option to add them to an order of over $500.00.

  • Make products visible and accompany them with information about Fair Trade. Tags and pamphlets help the customer understand Fair Trade and makes the products stand out to customers.
  • Make the words “Fair Trade” stand out in advertisements. This way, potential customers will know they can find ethical products at your store.
  • Walk the talk. Make your business sustainable by using recyclable packaging, recycling your waste, supporting development projects, etc. Your customers will appreciate it and trust you more.
  • Evaluate your selling tactics through customer feedback. Find out what customers like and dislike about your company and products is a great way to evaluate what you are doing right and what you could improve. Contact us at marketing@setufairtrade.com for more information.

For more information about Fair Trade, visit our FAQ section to find answers to commonly asked questions.

Adding value to your products

Many decades ago, people used to buy Fair Trade products out of charity or guilt. However, this is not a sustainable process in the long run. The following information will help you add sustainability to your business model:

  • 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.

Being customer-centric

In order to more effectively mobilize Fair Trade products in your store, you must be able to understand your customers (and who they are). This includes understanding their buying process, their needs, their preferences, why they buy or don’t buy from you, among other aspects.

Know your target market. It takes fewer resources (time, money, marketing, etc.) to sell to people whose values align with your company’s values. Although the Fair Trade target market varies, the majority of customers are women, especially middle-aged or older women and college students. Fair Trade buyers have also been found to be educated, well-traveled and cultured individuals whose values align with Fair Trade values.

Educate others on Fair Trade. Just because you are focusing on a specific audience does not mean you can’t expand your market through Fair Trade education and community involvement. The best places to reach potential customers would be schools, colleges and places of worship. Individuals in these institutions share either a global vision, are educated or learning about global trade, or adhere to high ethical standards. Hosting talks, Fair Trade parties, fundraisers, or creating events around Fair Trade Day/ Fair Trade Month will help you draw attention to the Fair Trade cause and expand your customer base.

Approach your customers carefully. It’s important to inform your store customers about Fair Trade; however, you need to approach your customers in a subtle way. The best way to handle this situation is to find out as much information as you can about your customer or the person for whom they are buying, find a Fair Trade product they are interested in, and then proceed to tell them details about the product. Here is an example of a conversation you might have with a customer:

You: Hi! Can I help you find anything today?

Customer: Yes, I’m actually looking for a Mother’s Day gift.

You: Is it for your mother or someone else who’s a mother?

  • Depending on who she is buying for, you can suggest different items. For instance, if the customer is buying for a mother with a newly-born baby, you can offer an organic, Fair Trade, tote bag. If the mother is an older woman, you can offer a hand-woven, Fair Trade, embroidered purse. The overall idea is to meet customers’ needs through Fair Trade alternatives. First, figure out what needs your customers are looking to fulfill. Then, look for a sustainable, Fair Trade alternative to meet these needs.
  • Get customer feedback. Use your customers’ feedback to evaluate why you are or aren’t selling certain Fair Trade items, why your customers choose to buy Fair Trade, and why your customers like you or why they choose to buy from someone else. Your customers hold the answers to all of these questions, and you may find a common trend in their answers. This research can be used to fix a problem or to continue using a strategy that has shown to be successful. You can obtain customer feedback by simply chatting with individuals inside your store or administering a short survey; there are many websites that offer free survey services.
  • Know your competition. It is a good idea to be alert of the opportunities and threats happening around you. You can visit your competition’s store or website to see what they are doing that is helping them be successful or what they are doing that is unsuccessful. Some organizations have webinars, community events or workshops that you can attend to study their own strengths. This will give you different ideas of ways to serve your customers better and allow you to stay on top of your game.

Branding: 1 way to be more competitive

Recently, corporations such as Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s Club, Kraft, Nestle and others have been exploring and adding Fair Trade lines to their offerings. While the retailers and wholesalers that have dedicated themselves to Fair Trade do exhibit more transparency, honesty, trust-worthiness and know-how of the market, there is one thing that threatens us all: brand recognition.

At SETU-The Bridge To Artisans we believe that this is the time to make your brand shine to help people recognize you and trust you. Before you start thinking that a brand is something only large corporations can manage, let us tell you that each company needs to make sure it puts out a consistent image and message. All you need is to have a clear business plan and goals that you can communicate in a consistent manner.

A simple way to start is to write a mission statement that you should be able to put on your wall, and be proud when people read it. Keep it in a place where you, your employees and your customers can see it. Every decision that you take should allow you to pursue your mission: buying, selling, employee treatment, etc. Your customers will notice this and trust you!

Once you have a very good idea of who you are and what you stand for, then work on the nuances of the brand and messaging. Remember that the brand/marketing plan has to support the business plans. Here is how you draft your branding plan:

  1. First, enter into conversation with stakeholders (end consumer, retailer, wholesaler, artisan) to figure out who to reach and why (this will make it more efficient and cost-effective for you to produce marketing materials)
  2. Record the different discourses you get from them, to figure out what messages they respond to
  3. Pick up the common themes, and these will become your guides to revitalize or re-do your brand
  4. Perform the actual brand strategy (see the steps below)

Brand strategy steps (the short version):

  • Develop your new messages based on what your customers respond to
  • Figure out the media you will use to promote yourself (magazines, online, social media…)
  • Develop consistent a tone/feelings, so that it becomes easy for your customers to recognize you
  • Enter the creative process: create posters, take pictures, make videos, develop slogans, etc. (to save on costs, this can be done by a graphics design student)
  • End result: Get out a single and consistent message.

Every company will have different challenges because you are all at different stages in terms of branding. We hope, though, that this heads up helps you identify your needs and hopefully achieve a great level of branding.

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