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The Economics of Consumer Choice: Why Carrotmob Matters

Many of the people reading this probably know a little about my background. I studied natural resource and environmental economics at UNR and I’ve always been interested in the challenge of putting an economic value on a social good like clean energy and clean air. We can measure exactly how much people value coffee by daily purchases, but it’s much harder to measure how much people value clean energy.

The reason Clean Energy Project began putting on Carrotmob events is exactly for the purpose of demonstrating how much people value clean energy. Customers make a small purchase for a common good that they probably would have purchased anyway, but by purchasing it at a certain time and place we can measure the value of the social good. 

If you haven’t heard of CEP’s Carrotmob event, it’s a consumer “flashmob” for clean energy. CEP organizes a mob of customers to shop at a local business and in return, the business will use the bump in sales to implement clean energy technologies.

We are seeing more and more now that consumer choice is driving businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. If this weren’t true we wouldn’t see sustainability reports coming from all the top corporations like Wal-Mart, Starbucks, GE and our local sustainability leader MGM Resorts. Carrotmob helps educate small businesses on consumer preferences in their region and we step in to help them make those changes.

With CEP’s Carrotmob, not only does the business see a direct benefit from this event, but they also learn quite a bit about their own usage and even more about community support for clean energy. On Sunday, November 10th 2013 CEP brought the community together to shop at Sunrise Coffee and the results were astonishing. We increased their average Sunday sales by 59% for the entire day, doubled, tripled and quadrupled their sales during the event and beat their best Sunday since they became a business 5 years ago.

When our supporters bought a cup of coffee that day they signaled to Sunrise Coffee that they value the business’s efforts to use clean energy technologies such as energy efficiency or renewable energy.

The consequence of this intentional spending is a shift in trends that more businesses will follow. CEP aims to use Carrotmob to incentivize change through customer purchases and educate the small business community on how to make those changes.

CEP asks that you know where your money goes. Know that every purchase could go toward shifting market values in favor of clean energy practices one dollar at a time. That’s why we call it voting with your dollars! Every time you spend, you help determine how a business will choose to earn their next dollar.   

Phoebe Judge, Business Organizer for Clean Energy Project 

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