Smart Phone Apps: Weapons of the Green Economic Revolution

Apple announced that it sold 37 million iPhones during the last quarter of 2011. That is equal to everyone living in California buying an iPhone during the holiday season.

The Pew Research Center reports that during this same time period tablet (iPad) and e-reader ownership doubled, resulting in one out of three of us now owning this type of device.

Consumers are downloading billions of apps onto their new devices that enable real-time, anywhere search capabilities. The ramification for every business is that the consumer is now armed with a discovery weapon that reveals all and tells all.

Price comparison shopping shock wave.
Real time, in-store price-comparison shopping is the first shock wave from this technology mega-trend. Armed with their smart phone and a price-comparison app consumers are taking photos of a product’s bar code to discover who else is selling the product and at what price. Not surprising to those who price-comparison shop or follow the stock market, PC magazine named the Amazon app that provides access to its own product inventory plus its 2 million merchants as #1 for price comparison shopping.

Green convenience.
A second wave of apps is emerging tied to price-comparison apps. These are convenience apps that save time and reduce costs. Mark Cautela of Staples recommended an example of a convenience app in my “Nominate Your Favorite Green App” article. This Staples app saves money, reduces costs and from these results creates a lower environmental footprint for the company and their customers. In terms of convenience, the app provides services like the locations for UPS shipping and a shopping list tool. It is “green” because it can eliminate the need for paper receipts and paper coupons by providing electronic versions.

Cause marketing.
A recommendation from Peter James Rose is an example of the business potential smart phone apps can create through cause marketing. Peter nominated ShopKick. This app combines price discounting, reward promotional marketing and charitable giving. Rewards or “kicks” are earned by walking into a store. Scanning a product in a store earns more reward points. The reward points can be used by a consumer to purchase a product or they can be redeemed as a gift to the consumer’s favorite cause. Cause marketing apps that develop “sticky” relationships are a still developing path for attracting values and value consumers.

Naked but buff.
But the real potential of smartphone apps for positively impacting profits, people and the planet are just emerging. Good Guides, a personal favorite and one that received several nominations, is an example of the app’s potential to enable sustainable consumer behavior by helping them “find safe, healthy, green and ethical products based upon scientific ratings.”

What the Good Guides app portends is an emerging business reality of complete “nakedness.” Nothing is secret anymore. Today’s consumers are using their apps to increasingly look past advertising to the science through resources like Good Guides, to NGOs like Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Food Watch and to their fellow consumers via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter apps in pursuit of product solutions that align value with values.

The only sustainable business response to “get buff.”
Get Buff is where a business wins competitive leadership by offering consumers the superior combination of value and values. “Naked But Buff” is the 21st Century Sustainable Economy’s competitive opportunity.

The green app is emerging as the “gun” of the Green Economic Revolution that consumers are firing right at the heart of a business’s competitiveness. Those businesses with price leadership now confront the need to maintain their competitiveness by aligning with the consumer’s app-enabled values expectations. Many “born green” businesses now face the reality that value is not enough, that they also have to compete on price. This is emerging into a $10 trillion annual global revenue opportunity. Consumers are in search-mode on who to buy from and what to buy. The business winners of the 21st Century Sustainable Economy will be selling price competitive “in me, on me and around me” solutions through consumers’ smart phone apps.


Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of best practices for making money going green. He has successfully coached hundreds of small business owners through the Green Builds Business program created by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation sponsored by Walmart.

Founder of Earth 2017. Author of The Boomer Generation Diet: Lose Weight. Have Fun. Live More that Jen Boynton, Editor in Chief of Triple Pundit , says is "Written in Bill Roth's lovable, relatable tone. A must read for any Boomer who is looking to jumpstart their health and have fun at the same time. I hope my parents read it. "

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