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.
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).
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.