The carrotmob, aka reverse boycott, helps biz

The old ‘stick’ approach to making a difference in your neighborhood was to boycott a business that people felt didn’t deserve support. However, the organization Carrotmob has an alternatively fun and effective approach, using a ‘carrot’ and a mob to help businesses become what the both the neighborhood residents and business owners want them to be, such as becoming greener.

The idea is simple, Carrotmob lets any number of businesses in a defined area bid on what % of their sales for a designated time period that they’d commit to a pre-defined neighborhood-benefitting goal, such as energy efficiency. The winning bidder is then rewarded by having Carrotmob’s virtual community of supporters mob and shop the place in that time period. The idea is not for supporters to shop any more than normal, just strategically. Carrotmob’s first business, a local grocery store, outbid the others with a 22% commitment, and enjoyed a packed store with record sales of nearly $10,000, paying for a new energy-efficient lighting system. Check out the video to get the vibe (and a much shorter one here), though the intro by Carrotmob’s founder may be a little grating at first.

The best part is this is just the beginning. Carrotmob not only held another successful event for a hardware store in Brooklyn, but inspired others, such as a podmob in Vancouver, Canada, Strawberry Earth in the Netherlands, and Porkkanamafia in Finland.

Not only that, but Carrotmob spurred a new company of its own, Vigrance, which aggregates consumers together to negotiate better rates for solar equipment and installation. They purchased a community solar-power initiative with plans for 20 U.S. cities via their 1BOG (1 Block Off the Grid) program.

Power to the people.