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  • Patricia Neuray

Consumers Are Voting for Social Impact with Their Wallet


For the last several weeks, I’ve been writing about purpose-driven companies and how they are growing and using their businesses for good. The businesses I’ve profiled truly believe in their mission, whether it is giving back to their local community, creating eco-friendly products or helping to save homeless animals. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also a great way to differentiate their brand from their competitors. In fact, studies show that 9-in-10 consumers expect companies to do more than make money by also addressing social and environmental issues. And, 82% of those consumers share information about companies that are socially responsible*.

While most consumers want to support businesses that share their values, it has not always been easy to make an informed decision. It can be especially tricky with huge conglomerates who have hundreds of brands and subsidiaries in multiple industries. The good news: it’s starting to get a whole lot simpler.

Buycott is a free app that allows you to vote with your wallet. You can use their UPC lookup or barcode scan to boycott bad products and find sustainable alternatives. For example, I am a huge animal lover and want to avoid buying any products that are tested on animals. This app makes it easy for me to find out about the company’s position on animal testing to make an informed buying decision right at the point of purchase. Buycott already has over 1.5 million people that have downloaded their app having found it primarily through word of mouth.

Another way consumers can get information about a company’s values is to look for a B Corp seal. B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability and they aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems. Collectively, these companies lead a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good.TM Their belief is that one day all companies will compete to be the “best for the world”.TM

Finally, I personally use One Percent for the Planet as another mechanism to decide where I want to spend my money. One Percent for the Planet is an international organization created by Yvon Chouinard, (founder of Patagonia) and Craig Matthews, (founder of Blue Ribbon Files), in order to “encourage businesses to donate 1% of sales to environmental groups. Their mission is to "build, support and activate an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet”.

So while there are government officials in the U.S. that want to roll back environmental and financial regulation, they should realize that the ship has already sailed. As long as consumers have control, they will demand that companies do the right thing. Bottom line—people are voting with their wallet and companies that don’t consider this are going to be left behind.

*Cone Communications