Monthly Archives: September 2015

Fair Trade: Labels Matter


How important are labels in marketing? Labels can be a critical source of information for consumes about products and companies. A label can tell about a product’s ingredients, manufacturing, nutrition, marketing, and more. The Fair Trade logo has been in existence now for 13 years, and in that time it has made a strong impact on consumers’ choices. But, are consumers willing to pay more for products that carry the label?

New research supports the assertion that consumers will indeed pay more for ethically produced goods compared to conventionally-produced goods, to the tune of a whopping 30% premium. Researchers have found that the Fair Trade logo produces activity in the brain’s reward center which alters the willingness to pay computation produced in our brains.

The study also highlighted that consumers believe that foods labeled as fair trade taste better than foods without the label, even though scientists said the products in the study were identical and without any taste variation. It just reinforces a marketing mantra we all know: Perception is reality.

What labels influence you?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of developing a clear, concise message for marketing programs.
  2. View video about fair trade:
  3. Visit the Fair Trade Web site:
  4. Use a pyramid model to build the key messages: Top of pyramid – most important message that the customer wants to hear. Middle of pyramid – how the product achieves its value for the customer. Bottom of pyramid – proof points used to validate claims.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a key message pyramid for a fair trade or environmentally-sourced product. (Make sure students select a target market first. Different target markets would have different message pyramids.)
  6. When debriefing the exercise, make sure to emphasize to students the difference between what a company wants to tell the market, and what a customer wants to hear about the product.

Source:, Manufacturing Business Technology

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Design Makes a Difference


Look around the room. Except for nature, everything in the room has been designed by man. But, how often do we actually consider the importance of strong design in developing an effective product? Sure, we recognize the importance of design in high-end products such as Apple iPhones, sports cars, and fashion. But, consider the ubiquitous products, such as eyeglasses and stoves, needed around the world by people with lower incomes. Is design important for these products as well?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Design makes things better, and good design is even more critical for lower-income consumers as they cannot easily afford to swap out poorly-designed products. Case in point: $5 eyeglasses designed for school children in Mexico. Another great design: $100 laptops for XO Laptops, powered by 1/5 of the energy needed in a typical laptop. And, $10 stoves that cook without toxic smoke for the 3 billion people who cook over open flames.

Design doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must be effective and meet the needs of people worldwide. What would you redesign?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the innovation process and importance of design.
  2. Poll students: What are some of their favorite product designs? Why are these designs important?
  3. Show the design video:
  4. Also show the XO laptop design:
  5. Article on $5 eyeglasses:
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select an idea or product that could use more effective design. What could be done for this product?

Source: Manufacturing Business Technology, CBS Sunday Morning

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YouTube Trends: What the Nation is Watching This Week


It’s fall and the political campaign season seems to be heating up. And, nowhere is this interest in politics more evident than on YouTube. One only needs to look at the breakdown by age category to see that viewers of voting age are increasingly turning to social media and the Internet to view the latest from the myriad of presidential candidates. This month, all ages under 24 years old are trending with music videos, while those over 25 years old most viewed political videos with Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. It’s quite a difference in viewing habits along age groupings.

YouTube posts a daily trends map based on demographics as reported by its account holders. Rankings are based on the number of views and can be separated by age, gender, and location. Through the aggregated data, YouTube Trends show us the most popular video in real time and gives ideas about trends that are developing within the YouTube viewing community. The map is a visual representation of the most viewed videos over the past 24 hours across the U.S.

What are you watching?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What are the YouTube videos they watch the most?
  2. What videos do they think are more popular for men vs. women? By various age groups?
  3. Bring up the YouTube trends map:
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a specific target market and geography and view the most popular videos in that area.
  5. Discuss how this information can be used by marketers.


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