Today we went to the Real Future Store by Metro Group.  We split up into two groups and were guided on a tour through the store.  Our guide explained a little about each department and the innovations which make it a "Future Store." Our first stop was the CD and DVD section, the innovation in this area was a sound shower that allowed customers to preview the album without wearing headphones. This was a white platform from which the sound showered the people who were standing underneath it.

These sound showers were used other places in the store as well, such as by the fish counter where customers can hear sounds of the ocean.  Another innovation that is appreciated by all consumers is the lavender and lemon scent that they pump out by the fish counter so it doesn't smell so fishy.

One of the biggest innovations offered in the Future Store is their use of smartphones to make shopping faster and easier.  Customers can download an app off of the internet for their iPhone and register their account.  Then the next time they are in the store, they can pick the items that they need and scan them into their phone using the barcode.  Once all items have been scanned and the consumer is ready to checkout, they can scan their iPhone into the system and pay.  This makes the checkout process faster.

This trip was particularly interesting for our group as we are studying food retail specifically coupons in supermarkets.  We learned that in Germany it is most common to use a payback rewards system.  This is similar to a preferred card where you can earn points for purchases and then receive automatic rebates depending on the amount of points you have accumulated. 
Following the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Future Store before reloading the bus for our final visit of the day.

The Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) is an umbrella organization that manages the Fairtrade system. It consists of key producers and consumers working together to ensure fair cooperation and mutual benefit from trade. Their core products include fruit, sugar, Cacao and tea. Of the products above, Fairtrade is especially influential in the market for tea.

Our first presentation was by Adrian Sym. He gave us a brief overview of Fairtrade's vision, mission and the current scope of their operations. In 2010 Fairtrade helped approximately 1.2 million individual small farmers and generated over 12 million in Fairtrade premium. This money goes directly back to the producers for digressionary investment. This money is usually reinvested in community projects to benefit children, Boost production or increase community health. We thought the most impressive figure presented was that there were 3.2 Billion in total global retail sales.
Our second presentation was by Alex Assanvo Fairtrade's Director of Global Product Management. He highlighted the current market conditions producers, consumers and Fairtrade face. This included the current demand for Cacao which is 3.5 million tons per year. Incredibly this figure is expected to increase to 4.5 million tons by 2020 which poses many concerns to the World's Cacao processors.

While Fairtrade realizes will not be able to ensure we meet this demand their goal is to help small farmers boost their overall quality of life through higher revenues and help the Cacao industry meet increasing demand. They aim to accomplish this mission through the Fairtrade premium they require to fund farmer education initiatives or other investment. For example if a community cooperative in Western Africa were to produce 5 metric tons of Cacao they would receive enough premium to hire one teacher for 20 children in their village. What’s more, if they were to harvest 3500 metric tons of Cacao they would have enough to finance a year of healthcare for 3,000 African Cacao farmers.  FLO hopes these premiums will help convince a younger generation of farmers around the world to continue producing Cacao.

Overall we found our visit with FLO to be very interesting and meaningful. As Americans, Africa is far away both in terms of distance as well as in our understanding of exactly what is going on there. I think FLO is a perfect example of people coming together to do the right thing and improve the lives of the disadvantaged. It certainly helped us to become more informed and we are very grateful.

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Blog Writer
Theresa Miller, Visiting Academic Advisor and Marketing Coordinator