We have talked about it for a long time – consumers using their purchasing power, or more correctly their purchasing discernment, to motivate companies to make more ethical and greener products, and to put more back into communities. But the dynamics are shifting rapidly – the primary drives that I can see are:
– economic recession – advertisers are looking to make their spend go further and not be ignored
– the internet – the ease of researching products and of expressing dissatisfaction on line.
– greater social and ethical awareness – green issues and working conditions and pay in particular
In an article in Good Cliff Kuang describes how consumers are bypassing advertising in print and TV:
“Against that background of flailing ad effectiveness, companies are shifting their ad budgets, one tiny step at a time, towards meaningful P.R., dedicated to noble causes. But what’s stopping a massive company from working at a grander scale, to really do something?”
The problems that Kuang goes on to describe are a number of companies who are making great strides in reducing toxins in their products, but are too fearful to promote their progress because of the fear of criticism,
“..an industry watchdog told me of a European cell phone maker that is almost a decade ahead of its peers in eradicating toxins from its products—but won’t advertise that fact because it’s afraid that some tiny, unforeseen aspect of what they’re doing that isn’t 100% right might fuel a nightmarish boycott.”
But that seems a little extreme. Those companies should be removing toxins regardless of the promotional benefits to the company. However, the real point that Kuang makes is really important. We need to find ways of rewarding companies for doing good.
Daniel Goleman’s new book, due out in the spring is called ‘Ecological Intelligence’ talks about some of these issues. In an article he recently wrote for Edge, Goleman talks about having software in your phone that can identify products when you are shopping and being able to find out exactly their manufacturing profile. His example: the soles of running shoes is pretty shocking.
36 percent are more likely to participate in the charity’s programs and event (compared to 29% for all adults)
32 percent are more likely to volunteer (compared to 23% for all adults)
Nice aren’t they!
Lots to thinking about for everybody. My thoughts always seen to swing back to leadership…