The Co-operative Food’s 20-year long commitment to Fairtrade has had a transformative effect on communities. The problem is, less than a third of consumers trust that the extra money paid for Fairtrade products goes to supporting producers (source: Mintel). So, what would convince you that the Co-op’s commitment to Fairtrade has a real, positive, impact on Farmers all over the world?
We’ve all seen brands present clichéd pictures of happy people and feel good success stories. It’s unconvincing and dull. Instead, harness the power of social networks to put you directly in touch with farmers. No PR, no spin; just the authentic stories of ordinary people you can talk to directly.
We gathered Fairtrade producers in Co-ops from India to Ecuador, gave them accounts on Facebook and Twitter and invited them to share their ‘Growing Stories’. This social media and digital campaign started a wave of conversations that reached over 10m people.
To spread the word, instead of buying ads, we encouraged people to share by adding £1 to a project fund every time they did, raising £50k used to improve the lives of those communities that took part.
Co-op Food has been championing Fairtrade for 20 years. In fact, they sold the UK’s very first Fairtrade product, back in 2000 (bananas, in case you’re wondering). Today, the Co-op offer the largest range of Fairtrade products you’ll find in any convenience store in the UK.
Seventeen years on, many remain sceptical that Fairtrade supports farmers. How could we convince them that changing the way you shop makes a real and lasting difference to the futures of Fairtrade producers and their communities?
The answer is simple: Ask the farmers.
With our Growing Stories marketing campaign, we developed a social media and digital platform to bring out Fairtrade’s ‘human’ side. We invited 17 producers from nine different countries to share stories from their cooperatives, and field questions directly from customers on Facebook and Twitter.
The central hub for all the social media marketing activity was the Growing Stories microsite. It pulled together all the action from social media: bringing social conversations between producers and customer onto sharewalls that made scale of the project visible.
From crop reports from sugar cane farmers in Belize to Kenyan rose growers sending fresh blooms to market, we wove a rich digital tapestry of life in a Fairtrade cooperative on social media. As well humanising the people behind those Fairtrade products, this digital campaign also showed how the Fairtrade premiums improved lives within the community on both an individual and communal level.
Spreading the message on social through shareability
To boost reach on social media and allow customers to show their support for Fairtrade, we added a ‘viral’ shareable creator to the microsite. This allowed people to create their own fun posts with messages made from Fairtrade products including molten chocolate, bananas and coffee beans. In return for sharing their messages on their social media feeds, the Co-op made a £1 donation to a Fairtrade project fund.
— angela dennington (@andeapd) March 7, 2016
The campaign was shared over 26,000 shares on social media and with an organic reach of more than 10 million people. It also produced Co-op’s single most widely shared social post in 2016, which was retweeted over 2,000 times.
During the campaign period, Co-op Food overtook Tesco as the UK’s second largest retailer of Fairtrade goods. Most importantly, Growing Stories raised £50,000 to help fund community projects in three of the Fairtrade co-operatives.
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