Thursday, June 12, 2008
We've all been told that we should vote with our dollars in order to support the companies whose values and ideals are sustainable and responsible. But what if our consumer purchasing power were organized and coordinated so that companies could more immediately experience our collective consumer voice? That is the idea behind Carrotmob.
Carrotmob is a nonprofit organization that approaches businesses and proposes that consumers would purchase their products if the company agrees to set aside a portion of those profits in order to green their business. Businesses then determine what percentage of their profits they would invest in green projects if the consumers would collectively purchase from their business. The business willing to make the greatest environmental commitment is then rewarded with an organized and coordinated shopping spree of the supporting consumers.
Carrotmob is the creation of Brent Schulkin. To test his Carrotmob model, he approached 23 liquor stores in his San Francisco neighborhood. He suggested that he could organize shoppers to come to their store if the business agreed to take a percentage of profits from these shoppers and reinvest them in their own business to make it more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly.
Stores began bidding on how much they would invest in environmentally-friendly improvements, with K&D Market winning the bidding war with an agreement to invest 22% of their profits. The store was then reviewed by the San Francisco Energy Watch Program and recommendations were made for improving the environmental performance of the store. Carrotmob then organized a three-hour timeframe in which supporting consumers would patronize K&D Market. To everyone's surprise, consumers were were lined up down the street and around the corner in order to vote with their dollars and support K&D Market's environmental efforts.
The reward to K&D Market: sales in the three-hour period were more than triple what they normally make in a full day and sales were nearly double their projections for this project. Following up on their commitment to reinvest 22% of the profit back into the store for environmentally-friendly improvements, K&D Market will be able to retrofit their entire lighting system and install new gaskets on all refrigerators.
The goal of Carrotmob is to "throw up more cash, and change the forecast."