Thursday, May 21, 2009

Will a Giant Mob With a Carrot Support Your Business?

Can a trend started by environmental activists translate into business philanthropy?

Carrotmob is a consumer activist organization that sponsors reverse boycotts of chosen businesses in the community. The idea started in San Francisco and Brooklyn, Philadelphia and cities around the world have taken on the idea. The way it works is that stores participate in a competition to see who can contribute the most to doing good for the world. The winning bidder promises to use a percent of the profits from the Carrotmob event towards become more green. Carrotmob organizes a shopping day where the “mobs” come out to support the store. The philosophy behind Carrotmob is stated below in their section for those activists who would like to get involved.

“Carrotmob was created by an activist who was frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional methods of activism: protests, rallies, boycotts, emails to congress people, letters to editors, and most of all, silly chants. Unlike those other methods, Carrotmob has measurable results built in. If businesses aren’t willing to make significant improvements, there will be no campaign. But once businesses decide that winning a Carrotmob campaign will bring enough value to them that they’re willing to make some big changes, they will actually become our partners.”

For me Carrotmob’s message goes beyond the hoopla the events create. The message is that consumers are using their buying power to influence business behavior. Consumers can and will in increasing numbers support businesses that care about the environment.

Already businesses hope to bring in “mobs” by hosting charity events. Could it work in reverse? In either case, Carrotmob’s idea points to the power of consumer to affect business behavior in a positive way.

Check out their website for more info about Carrotmob, how to organize an event or to learn a little more about the impact that consumer activism can have.

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