In 2012, the idea of Karma Cola was born in New Zealand but the product itself was born in Western Africa. After discovering that most major cola brands didn’t include cola nuts in their products, Simon Coley, Chris and Matt Morrison set about changing this. They ordered five kilograms of cola straight to their New Zealand home, and over 100 recipes later they perfected their product…an amazing tasting, organic and fair trade cola. From the sourcing to the marketing, the boys wanted to conduct a transparent and honest business model, allowing customers to know everything and anything about the product they’re about to consume.
Their commitment to Fairtrade is one reason why we’re such big fans. Simon, co-founder, describes the business’ ethical stance; “We believe good design and good business is about more than looking good and making money, even though both of these help. It’s about doing good too”. With the world consuming more than a million colas a minute there is undoubtedly a huge market out there, and undoubtedly fierce competition!
Giving back to the people who make their product is their core business value, the Karma Cola foundation was set up to ensure that the people who make the product are getting something back from the people who drink it. As well as giving cola farmers, and their families, independence through trade and supporting projects for them to develop sustainable infrastructure and education, they also give back three pence of every bottle sold to the individuals that grew the cola. Which in a world so focused on maximising profits this comes as a refreshing reminder that you can still thrive with strong corporate social responsibilities in place - a lesson to all of us!
Intricate illustrations and delicate design are what makes Karma Cola’s product stand out in a saturated market. 3 different flavours, 3 different personalities, Lemmy Lemon, Gingerella and cola inspired by a Mami Wata design. Coley recognized that you have 0.3 of a second to catch someone’s eye, and with that in mind he set out to engage people with their eyes. Coley explains Karma Cola’s use of character mascots and admits a trick he learnt from magazine publishing, “if you have a face on the cover, people have to look at it. The more well-known the face, the more magazines you sell”. Of course, at Goupie we highly identify with this – check out our character pieces to learn about our 17 unique personalities!
As if that wasn’t already, their amazing social content aims to portray their brand narrative along with the product journeys throughout the stages in the supply chain. Their social strategy once again comes as a pleasant reminder that success doesn’t only comes from traditional paid forms of media. Karma Cola’s Instagram consists of snippets of life taken from within their foundation, it’s hard not to crack a smile when scrolling through the images of happy children and dancing drummers. They truly do capture your heart from the get go, take a look for yourself (@karmacolauk), although be careful. You may fall in love.
We think Karma Cola is a great example of how little changes in the supply chain can turn something as commercial as a fizzy drink to a force for good. As the name suggests what goes around comes around…