Green & Black’s co-founder says travel industry could do more to exploit Fairtrade demand

The travel industry could do more to exploit demand for Fairtrade products, according to the founder of Green & Black’s, the organic chocolate brand.

Jo Fairley told the Global Travel Group conference in Dubai said she was surprised more ethically-sourced holidays aren’t made available by agents and operators.

She said in the early days of Green & Back’s the firm worked with Bristol-based travel agent Trips to offer customers the chance to visit where it sources the cocoa for its chocolate in Belize.

“Today I think there are more and more people who want to do that. We live in a more caring world. People are more conscious of the impact they are having.

“I’m frankly surprise there are not more companies offering holidays like that because I would be the first to sign up.”

Fairley said that today doing good is good for business because consumers are choosing to use brands that operate ethically.

She said that Green & Black’s has had a significant impact in Belize where 80% of the children from where it sources ingredients go to secondary school compared to none when it started.

Fairley told Global agents that having good product was paramount and that their product was testimonials from happy customers.

“That total commitment I your product is really important. When you believe in it really strongly it makes it so much easier to sell it.”

Fairley, a former journalist, said good PR was important and advised firms to engage with both trade and consumer press. “They are always hungry for stories and photographs,” she said.

“You have this fantastic opportunity to get involved. That coverage is so powerful for a business especially in the early days.

“If you advertise but there’s no recognition of your brand then it just does not register. If you don’t have the contacts ask around or use a PR agency that does. Any opportunity just grasp it.”

Green & Black’s spent nothing on advertising in its first nine years of existence, preferring instead to invest in getting free samples into customers’ hands.

“There is huge power in generosity,” Fairley said.

Fairley said firms should invest in good design to market their product and embrace customer feedback and review sites. “In a service industry testimonials is your free chocolate,” she said.

“Every single time you have a happy customer take the time to collect a testimonial. Find out why they liked it, write it down ad share it relentlessly.”

In the early days of Green & Black’s she said she was a “one woman customer service department”, sending free product to unhappy customers.

“My philosophy is the customer is always right, even when they are wrong. Anybody who works for me now knows they will never get in trouble for over-delivering on customer service.”

Agents should not be afraid of social media or any negative publicity, Fairley added. She said she eventually found her customers would leap in to defend the brand on social media.

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