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May 12, 2011

Women are Buying "Fair Trade" over Organic (messages)

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 6.46.01 AM

Changing the message.

You've seen the stats, 93% of groceries are purchased by women. That means that trillions of in the Gross Domestic Product dollars of the United States goes to what we select as we fill our carts. When it comes to coffee, more and more of us are selecting "Fair Trade Coffee," we are willing to pay more to be fair.

According to a Harvard, MIT report "FAIR" is the new "GREEN" in product offerings and by proxy -- advertising messaging. Apparently being "fair" motivates us to spend more than "shade grown" (allowing the diversification of the forest and birds to live); or "organic" (not using pesticides to grow the crops); "low carbon footprint" (the driving reason for the green movement). And it also motivates us more than "NEW" 

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 8.14.39 AM The fair trade label on coffee packaging can increase sales by up to 13% and the "buy power" doesn't drop off even when the price was increased by 8%. We want to be fair and we will pay a premium to do it.

As a marketer and observer of human behavior I find that study fascinating and at the same time want to slap myself. Of course playing fair has an impact on our willingness to pay more. Duhhhh.  We've been "NEWed" to death and know that it has no real value -- playing nice and fair is what we all want for the world on a very primal level. No one needs to educate us on what "being fair" means.

How primal is it?  In a 2003 study by Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Waal at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Living Links Center, they found that even in monkeys, "decision-making is based as much on an emotional sense of fairness as on rational considerations." [thank you Kelly Duncan for the write up]  The monkeys would share food with others if they both did equal work. 

In the National Geographic coverage: "Only female capuchins were tested because they most closely monitor equity, or fair treatment, among their peers, Brosnan said.

Partners of capuchins who made the swap either received the same reward (a cucumber slice), or a better reward (a grape, a more desirable food), for the same amount of work or, in some cases, for performing no work at all."

They point that Dr. Brosnan was trying to prove is that our sense of fair play is in our DNA first, it wasn't taught to us although it can be embedded into the culture later. 

When your Mother told you that life's not fair, she was probably right, but that doesn't mean that we don't stop trying to be more fair in our everyday choices such as Fair Trade Coffee, or selecting products that don't harm another woman's family on the other side of the planet. 


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Mary, how wonderful! Yes 'fair' is something to aspire to and make happen more frequently.


Ya! My women also does the same.

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