Qibla Cola is a carbonated cola beverage sold by England-based Qibla Cola Company Ltd. Its Muslim founders, Zahida Parveen and Zafer IqbalIt, created the company with a social purpose in mind by planning to donate 10% of all profits to charity. The company refers to itself as an ethical business and using the word “Qibla” they’ve incorporated an Islamic culture to their brand. On their website (http://www.qibla-cola.com) they state:
Creating the Ethical Business
Somebody had to do it.
With large multinationals seemingly taking over the world, there seemed to be a perfect little gap in the market for a new brand of soft drinks. So in 2003 Qibla Cola was born.
Talk about message in a bottle – Qibla had one. The real alternative to globalisation came in the form of an ethically aware drinks company who donate 10% of their profits to good causes around the world, and produce drinks that TASTE GOOD!
Qibla Cola brands a good moral character for its company to differentiate themselves from other cola brands which they imply are unethical. Their bottle (shown in the image on the left) markets their aim for social responsibility by displaying a parody of nutritional information.
Personally, I think the intentions behind the product are great. The founders are cousins and have been involved in numerous charitable organizations before starting Qibla Cola Company. When being involved with charitable efforts it’s easy to become frustrated trying to raise funds and it seems this is why Qibla Cola started. I see Qibla Cola being a proactive and sustainable approach to fundraising and I think it’s based on the best of intentions.
Their aim to help social causes is great but is it the right way to brand their products? Do they represent and market the quality of their actual products through their branding? Unfortunately they don’t. This is where I disagree with the approach Qibla Cola has taken. They try to appeal to customers by convincing them that their products are produced ethically and that as a company they are unlike their competitors and are socially responsible. This approach appeals only to those who care and are educated about the activities of other beverage companies. When a customer sees their product the first thing they see aside for the logo is their slogan, “..liberate your taste”. I find that this doesn’t properly advertise their actual product’s quality and for a customer who doesn’t care about social causes or doesn’t believe what they’ve heard about other beverage companies they have no reason to buy the product.
Also, they’re not very transparent as to which charities they donate to. One has to go to their website to find information about the charities and projects they’ve worked with but no where does it list the criteria used to choose such initiatives. I would be much more inclined to buy their product if I knew where the donations were going to by simply reading the product’s label. I’m not suggesting limiting the donations to just one cause but rather better showcasing how they choose the charities and which ones they’ve helped. Perhaps on their products they could have a section that shows how the product has helped and specify one of the initiatives they’ve sponsored.
What concerns me most about Qibla Cola’s branding is their repetitive claim that they are an ethical business without any proper evidence. When I first heard about the product I was very excited to know how they incorporate social responsibility into all aspects of their business. Unfortunately, the only evidence of such is the 10% of profits donated to charity. There is no mention of how their products are produced, are their processes environmentally sound? Where do they buy their raw ingredients and are they fair trade? How do they treat their employees? Are they paid adequately and given safe working conditions? It’s answers to questions like these and more that to me determine a company’s moral character, not just a simple donation of profits.
Qibla Cola has the best of intentions but needs to market their products to better advertise quality and they need to show others aspects of its business that promotes social responsibility before making a claim that they are an ethical business.
What do you think? Does the fact that Qibla Cola donate 10% of their profits influence you to buy their product? Do charitable causes in general affect your spending? What do you think of Qibla Cola’s marketing? We would love to hear your opinion, please comment below!