When people want a business to change the way it behaves or makes a product, they encourage others to withhold their dollars as a way of convincing the company they mean business.
Traditionally, withholding business to spur corporate change is known as a boycott, and usually produces underwhelming results.
That’s why Brent Schulkin decided to try out a new campaign that entices businesses to make social and environmental improvements by providing a financial benefit for doing what people want.
It’s the opposite of a boycott, (a buy-cott!) and it’s working all over the country.
The CarrotMob story:
On March 29th 2008, Schulkin went to 23 convenience stores in San Francisco and identified the store willing to make the strongest environmental improvements in exchange for a large number of new customers coming and spending money.
Carrotmob was born when hundreds of people came to the store at the same time to buy anything they wanted. The “mob” more than tripled the store’s daily revenue in a few hours, and that revenue is how the store financed an energy efficiency retrofit of their lighting system.
The organization helps change the alignment between businesses, community organizers, and ordinary people in the community. Businesses that are usually opposed to the change start to realize the financial and reputational rewards of “doing good” and Carrotmob organizers must fight through far less resistance to their cause while getting tangible results and mainstream support for their work.
Carrotmob supports campaigns related to human rights, social justice, and many other issues which are not “environmental”. However, most of their organizers have chosen to do campaigns related to climate change and energy efficiency. Carrotmob estimates that campaigns from 2008-2010 will have an impact of about 18 million kilowatt-hours of electricity saved (this is the CO2 equivalent of 1.5 million gallons of gasoline not being burned).
Image Credit: CarrotMob