Voting with my wallet

Our choices as consumers are implicit choices to support a business (not to mention its value chain). There are times, however, when a company’s behavior is unacceptable and consumers withdraw their support. Expect those instances to increase; a Forbes blogger wrote in December to expect, “consumer boycotts [to] become pervasive on both sides” of the political divide. (To be sure, some analysts warn that boycotts often come with enough consumer counter-action to offset any drop in sales.)

To make matters more complicated, it’s often hard to identify the true owner of some brands and the true behavior of some companies. Today, I downloaded the Buycott app. With Buycott, I can join specific campaigns, like “End animal testing” or “Stop Koch Industries.” Then, I can scan UPC codes in a store, and the app will let me know about the brand’s behavior against those campaigns.

I also downloaded the DoneGood browser extension for Chrome. This extension will help to identify the websites of ethical companies when I’m shopping online.

In practice, I’m not sure how effective they’ll be on influencing my own purchasing. Will I really take the time to scan with Buycott and assess every single product I consider buying while in the grocery store? Will I click away from preferred etailers to the brand sites that DoneGood points me toward? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to find out.


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