May 18, 2013
Putting Money Where The App Is
Sometimes we do not think about how we spend our money. We do not consider the companies our money goes to support when we purchase items in the store. We do not think about the ideologies, politics, or other views of those companies. But when we purchase something, whether a paper towel, box of cereal, or coffee, we support the companies that make and sell those, knowingly or unknowingly.
For some people this is not a problem. They do not care about the company; they only care about the product. However, for others supporting certain companies (be it Starbucks or Koch) is completely unacceptable. Well, for those who do not want to support a certain company for its ideology, company practices, or political choices, Forbes online wrote an article about Buycott, an app that will help consumers know where their money goes once they purchase something from the store. Technology helps customers to put their money into companies they want to support.
Here is how it works: “Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate family tree on your phone screen… Even more impressively, you can join user-created campaigns to boycott business practices that violate your principles rather than single companies.” So, not only can you see individual products’ corporate family trees in order to know where your money will ultimately go, but you can join a user-created campaign to boycott certain business practices. And you can do both.
The app creator is Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer Ivan Pardo. Pardo said, “I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app…For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think it’s Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. We simply want to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”
The app has campaigns that focus on boycotting certain brands and companies, but it also has campaigns that encourage supporting certain brands. So, if you wanted to boycott companies that opposed mandatory labeling of GMO (genetically modified foods), then you would see a list of companies including Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg’s, and Unilever, just to name a few. Similarly, if you wanted to join a campaign that supported companies that have openly backed LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) rights, then you might see Absolut vodka, Starbucks, and Levi’s.
What a completely interesting and useful app, at least in theory. As I write this, I am currently downloading this app, so I will be able to say more later. I am one of the people who is conscientious about where I spend my money and what I support. I try to do my best to purchase brands that fall in line with policies and practices that I am comfortable with. To do this, I have had to do a lot of research on the brands I use, the stores I shop at, and the parent companies to everything. This has been a time-consuming endeavor.
With Buycott, though, this process should be easier. With a simple scan, I should be able to tell where my money is going and what companies my purchases support. Plus, the added bonus of the user-initiated campaigns is pretty cool, too. It will be nice to have other users (or even me) creating campaigns instead of campaigns created by Buycott. Consumers will drive the campaigns, not the app. This gives consumers greater ownership in their purchases. They make their buying choices, and no one, no company, will push people to buy or not buy. People will be able to make those decisions themselves because of this new technology.
Image Credit: MJTH / Shutterstock