Seller beware: Buycott app reveals ideologies behind brands

Speaking Sustainably

Seller beware: Buycott app reveals ideologies behind brands

The adoption of smartphones has improved every aspect of our lives, especially the way we shop. No longer are we shopping based solely on whether or not we know a brand.

At the click of a button, we can access all we need to know about a company, its products and the ingredients that go into their production.

One new tool for marketers to be aware of is called Buycott. This smartphone app for iOS and Android devices lets shoppers organize their spending to help support causes they care for – and oppose those they don’t.

The app is simple but effective. Shoppers first create a profile that allows them to select certain causes and campaigns they support. At a store, shoppers scan the bar code for a product they are interested in buying.

The app then pulls up information from a database about the product’s parent company and shows shoppers whether the company supports or opposes the shoppers’ selected causes and campaigns.

In the 2013 edition of Eco Pulse, we re-framed the Actives, America’s greenest consumer segment, as Brand Huggers – not just tree huggers. They’re brand-loyal, frequent shoppers, whom we have deemed the Holy Grail of consumers.

Brand Huggers do an incredible amount of research before making purchases, and strive to gain an understanding about all aspects of the products they buy. From sourced materials and shipping logistics, to ingredients and corporate philanthropy, their research leaves no stone unturned.

The new transparency is here 

Most importantly, these green consumers want to know that the companies whose products they are purchasing share their philanthropic ideologies. Marketers need to understand that this trend will only increase from here on out.

We’ve written in the past about the necessity of corporate transparency, as consumers are more and more willing to punish companies that try to cover up not-so-green aspects of their business by not only dropping them from their shopping lists, but also encouraging others to do the same.

Now it’s becoming even more important, as these new tools are being developed to help green consumers really know who’s making the products they’re purchasing and what materials are going into them.

When it comes to Buycott, I have to admit that it seems a bit unfair to punish a company for not running a top-to-bottom green enterprise, considering the increasing complexities of global sourcing and the real limitations and challenges that exist in some industries.

But Buycott is just the beginning of a long line of apps and services that will help green consumers make purchases that align with their values.

This is the consumer climate we are facing, and marketers should definitely get on their toes.