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In the News

Offensive money, and social media

Penny Brooks

4th December 2016

A business's marketing mix should be carefully matched to its vision, aims and objectives. So, if the business is a vegetarian cafe with a clientele who rely on it to live up to that claim, taking payment which contains animal products may cause it some ethical issues.

The new polymer £5 note has caused plenty of comment, not least about its serial numbers - plenty of stories of notes with numbers starting AA01... selling for 'hundreds of pounds' on eBay. However, the controversy about it containing tallow, which is made from beef fat, is a different matter. There is an online petition for it to be replaced, the note has been banned by some Hindu temples, and last Wednesday a vegetarian cafe in Cambridge decided that they would refuse to accept it. This would be in line with their marketing mix - the Rainbow Cafe's Product is clearly defined as "serving only totally Vegetarian food and specialising in Vegan and Gluten Free food since 1988", and arguably to accept the note, in full knowledge of its contents, would not meet their customer's expectations.

Its a problem for the Bank of England, who have not commented on whether the cafe is within its rights to refuse to accept the note in payment. The Bank surely cannot have anticipated such an issue, and have said that the supplier "is now working intensively with its supply chain and will keep the Bank informed on progress towards potential solutions". They have to move fast on this, as the Bank are planning to bring out long-lasting polymer £10 and £20 notes next year, to replace the short-lived paper money.

The owner of the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge has received support for an ethical decision from her customers but been shocked by the response calling her 'hypocritical' on Facebook and Twitter . Its average rating on TripAdvisor is 4 star, but here's the latest review on TripAdvisor this morning:

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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