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Carrot Mob: Flipping Consumer Activism On Its Head

| Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 6 Comments

carrot%20mob.png While it seems the Exxon needs the force of the Rockefeller family led investor revolt to get it to budge on directing more energy towards renewable energy and taking climate change seriously, is that always the case? Do companies need to be compelled forcibly by threat of boycott, protest, regulation or other forms of financial punishment to effect change? Carrot Mob has a different idea, turning group activism on its head to an entirely more positive model.
It’s often said that you vote with your dollars, and what you buy sends signals to companies. But what if, rather then as individuals supporting businesses we like, or boycotting them en masse, we as a crowd were harnessed to financially reward companies that make the most change, as compared to other companies competing for the honor? What if we dropped the stick, and put out a carrot, that carrot being that you will have a “Carrot Mob” descend on your store and make a point of buying from you on a specified date, and perhaps even ongoing? That, I imagine, would be quite the motivation for a business to extend itself to make the effort to change or improve how they do business, generating immediate financial returns, positive press, and longer term goodwill from consumers.
In a video on the Carrot Mob site, exactly this is demonstrated.


Starting with all the liquor stores in the area, they asked what percentage of business generated by the Carrot Mob would each store use to improve the energy efficiency of their business? The top store said 22%. A local team of efficiency experts came in and analyzed areas of potential improvement, suggesting them to the store, and giving them resources to do it. On this, Carrot Mob’s first campaign, they had lines around the block of people waiting to shop, and generated more than $9,000 in additional business in a few hours, effectively doubling the store’s typical gross, enough money to redo their lighting system.

So this would seem to imply that this model has potential. Their idea is to start on a small, local scale, then create groups in other regions to do the same, and as they show themselves to be effective, link up groups to reward larger companies, eventually working with international scale corporations. If a simple idea like Join Me can cause people from around the world to do something positive for no reason whatsoever, think of how much could be achieved by giving people a specific reason, and a social way to express it, as seen in the video above.
Readers: What other positive models of effecting change in businesses and consumer behavior do you know about? Have you participated in a Carrot Mob? What do you propose as ways to shift the behavior of businesses in you area, region, or the world?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.


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  • http://greenhome.huddler.com Cristina

    Brent absolutely rocks my socks. The first event in SF was awesome and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the next one will be. Yay Brent! Yay Carrot Mob! Yay change!

  • http://eatdrinkbetter.com/ Sharon

    I think this is an awesome idea, and I was proud to attend their first event. (I was even pleased to see the store offered a number of organic items. How bout that?) Looking forward to seeing what they do next (though hopefully it involves less music videos).

  • http://www.achewood.com Erin

    Okay, this is way off topic, but I’ve been hearing that song everywhere I go. What the heck is it?

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    The mystery continues…

  • http://carrotmobkc.com Scott

    Kansas City is doing the next Carrotmob event: http://carrotmobkc.com

  • http://www.fairfood.org Jaap

    Hi,
    I would like to use this carrot-mob idea for making brand-owners of foodproducts more sustainable. Any ideas?
    So, reward a certain kind of food-brand product by buying loads of them, when they make their own production chain more sustainable.

  • Pingback: Carrotmob's Capitalist Activism Goes to Sea