Carrots Work Better Than Sticks

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CarrotmobWhen it comes to creating change within local communities, a new organization called Carrotmob knows that carrots work better than sticks. Carrotmobs around the world encourage small local businesses to bid on winning a “mob” by committing to direct a percentage of one day’s profits toward making their business more energy-efficient. Carrotmob then organizes consumers to mob the business on the given day, often providing perks like live music to create a celebratory atmosphere.

The first Carrotmob was on a Bay Area convenience store in March of 2008. The store, which typically posted sales of $2000-3000 on any given weekend day, anticipated sales of $5000 during the Carrotmob. But the mobbers, who lined up around the block to enter the store, blew the prediction out of the water: they brought in over $9,000 in sales in just three hours. The store was able to reinvest 22% of the profits into several small energy efficiency initiatives, reducing its electricity bills as well as its carbon footprint. Lastly, we can’t help but think that the store generated additional revenue going forward, due to the free publicity and awareness-raising among concerned consumers.

In a world when the intersection of “green” and “business” too frequently focuses only on businesses that produce sustainable – and expensive – products, Carrotmob shows us a model that works for ordinary businesses – and ordinary customers. People? Check. Profit? Check. Planet? Check. We like it.

More at Time magazine and The New York Times.

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Elizabeth Liedel is a joint degree candidate at Duke University, pursuing an MBA at the Fuqua School of Business and a Master of Environmental Management at the Nicholas School for the Environment. She is on the Executive Committee of the Duke Microfinance Leadership Initiative and is active in...
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