Putting money where MOUTHS ARE

Ethics may not be some­thing tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with the soda in­dus­try, but for Karma Cola, cre­at­ing good look­ing, great tast­ing, do- good­ing drinks is at the heart of what they do and so far, that de­vo­tion to pur­pose is pay­ing off.

New Zealand Marketing - - Insight Creative -

“Karma,” says eth­i­cal drink man­u­fac­turer Karma Cola, “is our pur­pose and our busi­ness model”. “It’s our hero prod­uct, it’s the name of our com­pany and it’s the foun­da­tion we’ve es­tab­lished to up­hold and im­ple­ment the val­ues that un­der­pin our com­pany.”

Those val­ues are some­thing it wears con­spic­u­ously on its sleeve and so far, it’s walk­ing the talk ad­mirably.

For a start, Karma Cola buys its cola di­rectly from farm­ers in Sierra Leone. Not only that, it pays another five cents from every bot­tle sold back into the Karma Cola Foun­da­tion, a fund cre­ated to help com­mu­ni­ties trade their way out of poverty and pro­tect the rain­for­est the cola comes from. It’s cur­rently the only cola com­pany to give back to cola grow­ers in this fash­ion, which they dub, the ‘vir­tu­ous cir­cle’.

It’s a no­ble sen­ti­ment to be sure, but one that re­quires a de­gree of skill – not to men­tion trans­parency – to pull off.

“We show all the in­gre­di­ents that go into our so­das,” says Karma Cola. “All of them or­gan­i­cally grown and eth­i­cally sourced, and the im­pact of the money gen­er­ated by the sale of them. We have no se­cret recipe and noth­ing to hide.”

“We saw this as an op­por­tu­nity to turn a small part of a mas­sive in­dus­try into an op­por­tu­nity to do some good. Peo­ple in Sierra Leone are still re­cov­er­ing from a 10-year civil war and need a way to lift them­selves out of poverty. We saw this as a small way of help­ing them de­ter­mine their own fu­tures.”

Run­ning an eth­i­cal com­pany has its unique chal­lenges of course. Af­ter all, Karma Cola sources its cola nuts from the bor­der of Sierra Leone and Liberia, sugar from In­dia and vanilla from the high­lands of Sri Lanka. It then brews it in Tau­ranga, the UK and Aus­tria be­fore dis­tribut­ing it to over 3,000 cafes in 20 coun­tries. That re­quires some lo­gis­ti­cal heavy lift­ing.

“Out of ten [ in terms of dif­fi­culty], get­ting cola from the south west of Sierra Leone to New Zealand, and es­tab­lish­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the peo­ple who har­vest it, is an eleven,” says the com­pany.

“For­tu­nately, we have strong re­la­tion­ships with Fair­trade, eth­i­cal trade and or­gan­ics move­ments through our other com­pany All Good Ba­nanas and pre­vi­ous en­deav­ours.”

Those re­la­tion­ships en­able it to con­nect with peo­ple on the ground in

We’re mak­ing a prod­uct in a cat­e­gory that isn’t known for its ethics and we’re turn­ing that par­a­digm around.

Sierra Leone, es­tab­lish a sup­ply chain and ul­ti­mately, cre­ate the story that dif­fer­en­ti­ates Karma Cola.

With a goal to pro­vide eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence to the farm­ers and com­mu­ni­ties it sources from – and to be­come the most pop­u­lar eth­i­cal soda in the world in the process – the com­pany has worked hard to cre­ate mes­sag­ing that re­flects the unique val­ues of the brand as well as give the con­sumer in­sight into the process.

By hav­ing a clear, un­am­bigu­ous pur­pose and com­mu­ni­cat­ing that di­rectly to stake­hold­ers of all va­ri­eties, Karma Cola has man­aged to se­cure both good­will and buy-in from point-of-ori­gin sup­pli­ers all the way through to end con­sumer.

“Demon­strat­ing the di­rect re­la­tion­ships and trans­parency of our sup­ply chain helps us en­gage with ex­ter­nal part­ners, es­pe­cially ac­counts and dis­trib­u­tors sell­ing our drinks, and jus­ti­fies the pre­mium po­si­tion­ing and price,” says the com­pany.

That pur­pose—so un­equiv­o­cally ex­pressed—is the glue that holds to­gether the or­gan­i­sa­tion and strength­ens its re­la­tion­ships with sup­pli­ers, part­ners and other stake­hold­ers.

‘ Think glob­ally, act lo­cally’ the say­ing goes, and that’s ex­actly how Karma Cola has ap­proached its big plans for a bet­ter soda busi­ness.

“We had the goal to pro­vide a route to eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence to the first vil­lage we worked with in Sierra Leone and we’ve done that through our cola nut trad­ing. We’re now work­ing with over eight vil­lages and ex­tend­ing the scope of the Karma Cola Foun­da­tion into other grower com­mu­ni­ties and other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Sri Lanka and In­dia.”

Another, less hum­ble goal? To be the most pop­u­lar eth­i­cal soda in the world.

“We’re on our way. Our growth has been dra­matic – we launched just over four years ago and we’ve sold over 10,000,000 bot­tles and cans so far.”

“Al­though we haven’t ac­tively tried to go be­yond the UK and Aus­tralia, we’re now in 20 coun­tries, sim­ply be­cause peo­ple have de­manded [it]. So you can find us in great cafes in Ice­land, Malta, Den­mark, Hong Kong, Ja­pan, France and be­yond. So our story and our mar­ket­ing has brought us great cus­tomers, but it has also brought us in­vest­ment.”

For Karma Cola, the bot­tom line is, and has al­ways been, mak­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact on the com­mu­ni­ties it works with. And that’s where the great­est wins so far have been.

The im­pact of The Karma Cola Foun­da­tion in the Boma and Ti­wai re­gions of Sierra Leone in­cludes:

“We’ve also learnt that we’re not a char­ity. We don’t tell the peo­ple ben­e­fit­ing from the Karma Cola Foun­da­tion what to do, as they know what they need more than we do. Vil­lage elders and chiefs of Sierra Leone demo­crat­i­cally de­cide what to do with the funds.

“We’re mak­ing a prod­uct in a cat­e­gory that isn’t known for its ethics and we’re turn­ing that par­a­digm around,” the com­pany says.

“We be­lieve some­thing as friv­o­lous as a fizzy drink can ac­tu­ally be a great ex­pe­ri­ence and a force for good.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.