Charity coffee aims for a richer blend

INSIDE BUSINESS Marketing: can you be caring and commercially correct? Helen Jones reports

"RICHER, mellower and distinctly less bitter." Cafedirect is not just talking about the taste of its coffee brand, but also the Latin American and African farmers who grow the beans.

The company, backed by the charities Oxfam, Traidcraft, Twin Trading, and Equal Exchange Trading is this autumn running its first advertising campaign in women's magazines, including Elle and Marie Claire. It will focus not only on how consumers can help impoverished coffee growers, but also on the quality of the product. The campaign, created by the advertising agency Leo Burnett, is part of a marketing strategy to reposition Cafedirect as a mainstream brand, widen its consumer base, and make consumers aware of the plight of coffee growers in the developing world.

Although sold in all leading supermarket chains, including Safeway, Tesco and J Sainsbury, Cafedirect is synonymous with the ubiquitous Oxfam catalogues that fall from Sunday supplements. The brand started life in 1991, when it was available only through mail order. But gradually, by word of mouth recommendation and support from church organisations that began selling the product, sales began to rise and the supermarkets took notice.

Cafedirect's selling point is that it guarantees to pay farm co-operatives a minimum of 10 per cent above the world coffee price for their produce and to ship the product directly to the UK, where it is marketed. The farmers use the money they receive to benefit their communities and provide health care and education. The long-term basis of Cafedirect's relationship means farmers can make plans for the future rather than survive from one harvest to the next.

Cafedirect's products have all been awarded a Fairtrade Mark by Third World development organisations. This informs consumers that any product bearing the Fairtrade symbol cares for its workers - although it is not only small charitable organisations that are allowed to use the symbol. Typhoo Tea, which is owned by Premier Brands, has also been awarded one.

Cafedirect's sales director, Lorna Young, says that because of its heritage the Cafedirect brand is saddled with a "right-on image". "When we launched the product, it was people who supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and believed in the anti-apartheid movement that bought it, but now the situation in both Nicaragua and South Africa has changed," she says.

Ms Young maintains that the traditional consumer base for the product - the politically aware and church groups that sell Cafedirect to their members - is still important. But she faces a classic marketing dilemma - how to move the brand on and attract new consumers without alienating its core market.

"Through the advertising campaign we are now targeting "semi-ethical" women. These are people who are reasonably interested in green and world issues and feel that they want to do the right thing, but only if it is not too difficult or too painful for them."

To this end, says Ms Young, Cafedirect is focusing on the quality of the product. "We give the farmers advice on quality control, and they use traditional techniques to make sure that it is a really good product."

She says: "It's no good persuading new consumers to try it if it tastes really horrible, because they will not buy it again. That initial feeling of goodwill is destroyed, and we will not get the repeat purchases which we need."

Ms Young adds that the company is now looking at other products that it could sell. "We are just starting to dip our toes into the catering market at the moment, which is huge for coffee in the UK. But we are also looking at introducing decaffeinated coffee and possibly coffee-related products."

Cafedirect says that it has received invaluable advice and support from a surprising source - the supermarkets. "Some of them were very enthusiastic and tolerant and advised us on all sorts of things, like presentation and distribution. They are now taking our full product range," Ms Young says.

With the supermarkets - which are not known for sympathetic largesse - on Cafedirect's side, it only remains to be seen whether the general public will prove to be equally as enthusiastic about the product.

peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) - Hertfordshire/Middlesex

£300 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) Watford...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style