Communicating the added value of sustainable products

For our customers to opt for respon­sible consumption, we need to ensure high product quality and explain sustain­ability aspects in a credible, under­standable way. We want our customers to realise that respon­sible consumption is easy and can be fun. That is why we further expanded our sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions in 2014 and standardised the labelling of our products. We also enter into dialogue with our customers online – including on critical sustain­ability-related issues.

Our goal is for Tchibo to be perceived as a respon­sible company and a sustainable brand. Above all it is important to convince customers of the added value of our sustainable products. To achieve this it is crucial to speak with one voice across the company, and avoid contra­dic­tions. A number of different depart­ments are involved in our sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions: Marketing, Corporate Commu­ni­ca­tions, our Tchibo shop staff, field sales staff and other depart­ments. They coordinate their messages carefully, and are supported by the Corporate Respon­si­bility department in the process.

Our sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions are subject to the basic Tchibo commu­ni­cation require­ments set out in our Brand Manual. When commu­ni­cating environ­mental aspects, we follow the guide­lines of the ISO 14020 standard for commu­ni­cating, labelling and declaring the environ­mental aspects of products.

Compre­hensive infor­mation on all channels

We deliver compre­hensive, trans­parent infor­mation about sustain­ability to our customers, using all means of commu­ni­cation available to us. Our customers will find key product-related infor­mation – such as sustain­ability labels – right on the packaging. We provide additional infor­mation wherever customers buy our products – in our Tchibo shops, Depots and the online shop. In the Tchibo Magazine and on the Internet we have the oppor­tunity to explain more detailed background and the benefits of sustainable products in inter­esting, easy­to­under­stand and enter­tain­ingly presented stories. On social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter we seize the oppor­tunity to open a dialogue and especially take part in the discussion of critical issues (Customer Dialogue). The Tchibo Sustain­ability Report and our company websites offer extensive and detailed infor­mation.

Tchibo employees are given extensive training in matters of sustain­ability and receive ongoing infor­mation updates – regardless of whether they work in sales, have contact with customers, or are personally inter­ested in the subject. The “Sustain­ability at Tchibo” brochure, topical articles on the intranet, events, and other dialogue formats help to meet the various require­ments.

Easier identi­fi­cation of sustainable products

Sustain­ability labels make it easier to make respon­sible purchasing decisions – but too many different labels can also make it difficult for the customer to choose. We want our customers to be able to recognise sustainable products right away. That is why, at the end of 2014, we began to develop our own labelling system that integrates existing seals and is immedi­ately recog­nised by customers. The aim was to present sustain­ability in a credible, consistent and stringent way: at the point of sale – i.e. in our Tchibo shops, Depots and the online shop – but also on packaging and in the Tchibo Magazine. So the label had to have a high recog­nition value, needed to be eye-catching and unique, and flexibly usable with all sustain­ability labels. Since spring of 2015, we have used the ‘sustain­ability ribbon’ to identify our sustainable products. For example, on organic cotton products the words “with organic cotton” are placed very visibly next to the Organic Cotton Standards seal.

Open and trans­parent dialogue on the Net

Our point-of-sale commu­ni­ca­tions are supple­mented by infor­mative and enter­taining online commu­ni­ca­tions, especially on our various social media channels. Our own YouTube channel in particular allows us to easily convey sustain­ability in pictures. For instance, in early 2015 we showed the impor­tance of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) seal on wood and paper products in a fun and easy­to­under­stand way with our animated film “Mr Coffeebean in the Forest”, which explains the condi­tions we and our suppliers have to meet in order to be able to affix the seal to our products. This is the second YouTube video in our Mr Coffeebean series to deal with the standard organ­i­sa­tions’ seals – after ‘Mr Coffeebean in Coffee Label Land’ in 2014, in which we informed people about our coffee label partners.

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In 2014 we also produced a video showing the everyday school routine of Mary, the 13-year-old daughter of a small­holder farmer who grows cotton in accor­dance with the require­ments of the Aid by Trade Foundation’s Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. Mary attends a new school in eastern Zambia, built as part of an educa­tional project in collab­o­ration with CmiA. The release of the video was accom­panied by a CmiA infor­mation campaign on Facebook, Twitter and on our corporate blog (Educa­tional Projects in the Source Countries/ Social Aspects of Production).

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Special promo­tions: ‘Enjoy and do good’

We regularly run special promo­tions to system­at­i­cally involve our customers in our social respon­si­bility efforts. One good example is our children's education project campaign in Guatemala, where sustainable coffee culti­vation requires a special commitment to protecting the children of farm workers. During the school holidays there are no daycare facil­ities for children, so parents often take them along to work. This often leads to the bound­aries of acceptable child labour being overstepped. Since April 2013, together with the global children's rights organ­i­sation Save the Children, we have been working to expand the avail­ability of childcare for children in the Huete­nango region, thereby offering a sensible alter­native.

In 2014, we invited our customers to help promote the project with us for the second consec­utive year under the slogan ‘Enjoy and do good’. During the campaign we donated 10 cents to the local project partners for each pound of Privat Kaffee sold. From April 2013 to January 2015 we raised over €1.9 million in this way, which financed the construction of six daycare centres now used by about 700 children.

During the promo­tional campaign, we kept people updated on the project's progress through various commu­ni­cation activ­ities. In addition to videos, articles in the Tchibo Magazine, press releases and other social media activ­ities, blog entries by project partic­i­pants in Guatemala formed a bridge between our customers and the local producers.

Tchibo Coffee Report provides infor­mation about sustainable coffee enjoyment

The third Tchibo Coffee Report, which we publish annually together with “brand eins Wissen” and the statistics portal statista.com, was devoted to the topic of ‘sustainable coffee enjoyment’. Tchibo took its publi­cation as an oppor­tunity to build awareness for the topic with inter­esting facts and figures. For example, figures on the prefer­ences of male and female coffee drinkers are very revealing: 43% of men stated that they prefer sustainable coffee, as compared to 57% of women. The ranking of German federal states according to the proportion of coffee drinkers dedicated to sustain­ability is led by Baden-Württemberg, where 18.3% of the population said they preferred sustainable coffee.

Rankings and awards provide confir­mation and motivation

Public perception of our sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions is increas­ingly positive, as shown among other things by our success in the rankings of the past two years. We see this as recog­nition for what we have achieved, as well as an incentive to continue to improve.

  • The consumer protection agency VERBRAUCHER INITIATIVE e.V. rates Tchibo as one of the few retailers that practices credible, compre­hensive sustain­ability commu­ni­ca­tions that are acces­sible and compre­hen­sible for consumers. We received its gold medal for ‘Sustain­ability Commu­ni­ca­tions in Retail 2013’ for this.
  • In the ‘Sustain­ability Image Score’ (SIS) ranking published by the Service Plan agency based on an online survey of about 8,500 consumers, we came 16th out of 104 partic­i­pating companies, up 13 places compared to 2014.
  • A repre­sen­tative survey by the Institute for Market Research TNS Infratest, which we commis­sioned in 2014, provides further validation of our approach. According to the survey, customers in Germany see Tchibo as the most sustainable company in the fields of coffee and consumer goods, compared with selected other providers.

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