Are you one of the millions of Americans hell bent on putting this monster of a company, and its peers, in their place? There’s now an app for that. In fact, Buycott, which launched this month to much consumer excitement, will help you boycott products from brands you’ve no interest in supporting. So many consumers want to vote with their dollars, but because of the tangled web weaved by mergers and company ownership, few people know that when they innocently buy a box of Duncan Hines cake mix that the brand is owned by Monsanto.
Now with Buycott, you can simply scan the bar code of any product at the grocery store and find out which company is behind it. The idea is certainly not to complicate your grocery experience, what with the reading of ingredient and nutrition labels, too, but rather to arm you with more information to make a most educated decision. If this is your thing.
“A buycott is the opposite of a boycott. It is an active campaign to buy the products or services of a particular company or brand,” they say in the introductory pages of the app upon download. This suggests that while you may scan one brand and learn of its corporate heritage and choose not to buy it, you’ll likewise scan a different product and choose to support that brand instead. The Buycott app can work either way, obviously.
A Koch Industries spokesperson, Missy Cohlmia, was quick to point out this detail to the Wichita Business Journal. She told the publication that the app could be used to identify Koch products, which includes Brawny paper towels, Dixie Cups, Quilted Northern, and even the Lycra in your favorite yoga pants, and make the choice to buy those rather than boycott.
“Boycotting our products doesn’t just hurt a company,” she told the WBJ. “It hurts those employees and employees who are members of unions.” Koch employs about 50,000 people in the U.S.; Monsanto employs about 22,000.
But Do You, as a Consumer, Care?
“Well, of course you care about the employees, we’re workers and employees, too, and you feel for people affected by these decisions,” said Josie Maurer, a popular health blogger at YumYucky.com. “It’s insulting that [Koch] would put that on us when they should be caring for those working for them by doing the right thing for their company.” She explained that if a company is worried about how something like Buycott will change a consumer’s mind then they need to adapt and give consumers what they want.
“I pick my family over anything else every time,” she said, explaining that she’s already stopped buying Kellogg’s and General Mills products because of GMOs.
The Business of the App
Buycott took 16 months to build, according to its developer, LA-based Ivan Pardo, as told to Forbes. That’s quite a while, according to Evomail co-founder Jonathan George who says his team spent nine months building their innovative new email app currently available for iPad.
While no data has been shared by Buycott regarding the number of downloads they’ve had, it’s clear from 503 errors on the site that business is good; in other words, the server can’t keep up with demand. (In fact, we never fully got to test it because it wouldn’t load.) George noted that at Buycott’s peak, since a May 4 launch, the app ranked as high as number 19 for the most popular free apps in the iTunes store.
“That’s really a ton of downloads,” he told us. “That’s probably 10,000 downloads per day, if not more.” Buycott is also available on Android, and George indicated that on that platform Buycott has only seen 100-500 downloads there.
He raised an interesting point based on this download activity – “Are iPhone users more socially conscious than Android users?”.
Buycott is Good for Business
For brands that don’t show up connected to one of the giants targeted in this app – Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries – it could serve as a boon for business. A Nielsen survey released in March 2012 “found that 46 percent of global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented sustainability programs,” according to a story at TriplePundit.com.
Now, more than ever, consumers’ voices, heard with their dollars at cash registers across the country, have a chance to make a dramatic impact on our food supply. Buycott will only get us closer to telling brands we don’t want their junk, poison, engineered “food” any more.