Sunday, May 17, 2009

What is a Carrotmob?


What is a Carrotmob you ask? It's not a vegetarian riot, if that's what you're thinking. Carrotmobs are the next step in the evolution of activism. They're based around buying products you already want and creating friends instead of enemies with local businesses all the while providing incentives for those regional shops to do what you want.

The strategy goes like this. Traditionally, if a group wanted to change the direction of a business they'd resort to punishment a.k.a. boycotts. This didn't make anybody happy as the conpany would lose money and the customer would lose a purchasing option. What a Carrotmob does is reinforce positive, cooperative relationships by first choosing a geographic location perhaps a few city blocks, then starting a bidding war among the competing companies. What are they bidding for? The prize at the end of the auction is that one day a "mob" of activists will flood the store who agrees to devote the highest percentage of sales that day to environmental improvements.

So simple, eh? It's attractive to shop owners because it boosts their bottom line (duh!) but it appeals to lazy activists (sometimes called "slacktivists") who have a social conscious. You know the type who just sit around on myspace, facebook or blog about their concerns (ahem, don't look at me) but never get out of their computer chair except to buy some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to compliment the herbal enhancement they just smoked 15 minutes before -- you know the type.

To see the efficacy of this program you need look no further than the inaugural event back in March of 2008 in San Francisco. One business, K&D Market, was chosen out of 23 competing stores. That day the Carrotmobsters spent a grand $9,200, 22% of which was invested in greening the lighting system. This is a brilliant way of harnessing the power of markets for good and not evil.

There are plenty of Carrotmob resources online. Check them out.

See the first ever Carrotmob in action
Shoppers, Unite! Carrotmobs Are Cooler than Boycotts
Organize a Carrotmob or find one near you

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