This post I hope will be useful market-research for the Fairphone team and may help with increasing the reach of the product (in time for Christmas maybe?)
I love showing my Fairphone to my friends and explaining the ethical and personal advantages of it. From my experience that is one thing that most excites the typical would-be-phone purchaser is upgradability and the fact it is cheaper than the lower-spec iPhone 6. However, I believe the one big thing holding people back here in the UK is that the phone is only available on contract (the affordable option) through the Phone Coop or as a very expensive one-off purchase of the Fairphone store.
Why is this a problem?
- It is too expensive/risky to buy a phone outright AND they do not want a contract with the Phone Coop a company, as they may not have the package they would like, almost no-one has heard of them and they have poor customer service reviews (unfounded or not)
- When I’m showing off this Fairphone, most people already have a working phone/ have recently “upgraded” to a new phone (with a discount) at the end of their contract. By the time their phone breaks - they get an email saying “oh look you can get a shiny new phone AND a tablet on the same package” and all considerations of ethics go totally out of the window!
Within my social circle (middle-class south-of-England), people usually buy their phone on contract from a phone distributor or perhaps their network provider. The dominant phone distributors are Carphone Warehouse, Currys/PC World, and the various phone networks (Vodaphone, Virgin Mobile, Talkmobile, giffgaff, EE, O2, Three, iD, BT mobile).
I attended the pop-up shop in London last year so I know that seeing a physical phone in a shop (and having people talk me into it) is a really powerful factor not only in making people feel confident enough to buy it but also to make people aware of it - just like when Fairtrade products moved from specialist stores to supermarkets across the country. If ethical products are more widely available the good that is achieved is much greater.
The point of this discussion is to address 3 questions:
- Would you (writing this post) be more willing to buy a Fairphone if it was available in-store?
- Why is it that Fairphone is not available in stores in the UK?
- Is there anything that the community can do to make Fairphones more widely available in the UK?