Category Archives: About Carrotmob

You do make a difference

We’ve gotten out our calculator and done some number crunching at Carrotmob. I know, sounds boring. But the exciting news is 18% of businesses say pressure from customers would influence them to be more sustainable. And a whopping 60% say they’d like to be sustainable but the sustainable alternatives are too expensive. These figures come from a survey of Australian small businesses last year.

Sometimes numbers are good. Pressure from customers influences 18% of business to be more sustainable.

The survey didn’t ask what businesses would do if a whole mob of customers showed up at their business and bought things to help them afford sustainable changes. But we suspect 100% would agree that’s a great idea.

Voting is open for the rest of the week. All the voting from the Sustainable Living Festival is being counted separately from the online voting so every single vote could make the difference between your favourite business winning and losing.

Have a guess at how many people you think voted at the festival in the comments field – we’ll be letting you know in a couple of days time. In fact, we’re so confident no-one will get it spot on that we’ll buy you a Keep Cup if you do!

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Behind the scenes at Carrotmob

Running Melbourne’s first Carrotmob hasn’t been as easy as the two

Helen and Ying

Helen and Ying drumming up business for a Carrotmob

co-founders  thought it would be.

“It’s a real win-win situation, we thought it was a no brainer but we’ve learnt so much” said Helen. “The bottom line is a mega deal and time is such a big deal for small businesses.”

Helen and Ying found out about the Carrotmob craze sweeping the world while both were volunteering at the Transition Town Boroondara project.

Carrotmob works by getting a business to commit its profits for a set time to making environmentally friendly improvements. In return a mob of consumers show up and buy. The Carrotmob, named because it works on the ‘carrot not stick’ philosophy, was first run in San Fransisco and had queues winding around the block.

However, for small businesses in Melbourne, it wasn’t only hard to explain the concept but it was difficult to get a commitment to give up their profits when often margins are so tight.

In the end it was Ying’s knowledge of Mandarin which helped to get the first business owner over the line with Ying able to explain the concept in his native language.

“It was a new concept so it was a really hard sell for businesses,” Ying said.

However, Helen and Ying have persisted. The former business students say it’s the combination of helping the environment while also helping a small business which really appealed to them both.

“I’ve never been a massive climate change activist,” said Helen. “But this has an actual outcome and is a really emerging area so that’s exciting.”

The pairs’ enthusiasm is contagious. VECCI is now completing the environmental audits for businesses for free through its CarbonDown program, Sandman films are filming the videos, and other friends have helped out along the way.

The pair is now working hard to make sure the next mob at Federation Square will be bigger and better than ever. This time around the mob gets interactive. Three businesses will sell their ideas to consumers who will then get to vote for the idea they like most. Voting will start at the Sustainable Living Festival this weekend.  Helen and Ying will both be there so come down and say ‘hi’.

What revolution in Egypt and Carrotmob have in common

On the weekend thousands of ordinary Egyptians protesting in Tahrir Square finally forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Before that it was protestors in Tunisia forcing out their president. Now Twitter is abuzz with talk of protests in Bahrain, Yemen and Iran to be held tomorrow. Given protesting is illegal in Iran, the power of seeing others take action is clearly a strong motivating force.

If you read that sort of thing there’s been a lot of debate about how much of a role social media played in the protests.

Wael Ghonim started the biggest Facebook group during the protests “We are all Khaled Said” after the businessman and activist who was killed by police officers.  The Google executive was subsequently arrested by the Egyptian police and then released 11 days later after a lot of international attention.

In an interview with the US 60 Minutes last night Wael Ghonim was clear “If there was no social networks, this would never have been sparked. Without Facebook, without Twitter, without YouTube, this would never have happened.”

For Carrotmob, we can say a similar thing. Without access to the internet, we would never have found out about the people in San Fransisco who first had the idea of a Carrotmob. Without Facebook, Twitter and blogs we wouldn’t be able to communicate with other people who think it’s a good idea too. Is it a bit cheeky to compare uprising in the Middle East with an environmental flashmob? Maybe a little.

But back here in Australia, regardless of what you think of our political landscape, we do function in a democracy. So it’s becoming rarer and rarer for people to care about something enough to gather together about it in significant numbers.

When I try to think about a common cause amongst the people I know, the one thing I come back to is the environment. It’s the one thing that impacts on every single human being. Most of us all do little things every day to try to do our bit. Turn switches off at the powerpoint, use recycling bins, ride a bike to work. But people and business are struggling to know what to do next.

By showing up at the next Carrotmob we’re showing in a really public way that the environment is an important issue to us. It’s the power of the mob and as we’ve seen in the Middle East people gathering together for a common cause is a powerful thing.

So Carrotmob is a call to arms in a small way. You can choose to dress as a zombie and flashmob in the streets. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. But you can also choose to meet up with a bunch of other people and say the environment is important. It will be fun too. But unlike the zombie flashmob, it’s making a statement. And who knows where that might lead.

The year of the carrot, sorry rabbit.

Rabbit with carrot

It's the year of the rabbit and the carrot at Carrotmob

So it’s occured to us here at Carrotmob Melbourne that it’s now the year of the rabbit under the Chinese zodiac. And we all know what rabbits love to eat.

After extensive  research (well okay, two minutes of googling) apparently people born in the year of the rabbit are a sucker for a pitch from a salesperson. Apparently these kind and generous souls  are moved by hearing about others’ personal problems. This has to mean good things for our next Carrotmob where we’re going to hear directly from business owners before deciding which business to mob. Rabbits are born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011. Any rabbits out there who think they live up to their Chinese zodiac?

Carrotmob…what the?

So I’m guessing if you’ve found this blog you probably know what a flashmob is (I checked and even my techno-illiterate mum has heard of them). But just in case here’s a video of one in action in Melbourne.

Carrotmob is a flashmob with a cause. Yes, that’s right, you showing up in a spot at the same time and place as everyone else can make a difference. Hang on, you say, isn’t that known as a protest and haven’t they been doing those since the ’60s?

Think of Carrotmob as a positive protest with an oddly capitalist twist. You spend your money on stuff you would’ve bought anyway – a coffee, some groceries; and in return a business pledges to do ‘something good’. Often it’s an environmental improvement, it could be donating leftover food to the homeless, whatever the business can commit to.

Then if you think what the business is promising to do is a good idea, all you have to do is show up and buy. No tie dye necessary. No chanting (not unless the mood strikes you). Just spending followed by warm, fuzzy feeling. Who would’ve thought capitalism could be this fulfilling.

And guess what, Carrotmob is coming to Fed Square right here in Melbourne. There will be pledges and there will be voting. Got thoughts on what pledge you’d like a business to make? Share them here.