Do you buy ‘corporate responsibility’, or do you buy ‘niche ethical’?

I was pondering this as I finally cancelled my agreement with a company yesterday.

The company is Three, a UK mobile firm with a poor reputation, even worse service (as I found out), and a dreadful product.

They have nothing really happening on corporate responsibility (CR).

I bought 18 months of mobile broadband, which never really worked well, at best.

I was wondering, as I battled with them on the phone to cancel yesterday, why I hadn’t, for example, signed up with Vodafone when I bought my mobile broadband those 18 months ago.

When you go shopping for things you need (or even things you don’t), do you, as someone who works in this area, make purchasing decisions based on whether the company is into corporate responsibility?

This is more nuanced a question than asking about buying “niche ethical”.

I buy niche ethical when I go to my local Co-Op supermarket on Caledonian Road here in London.

I buy Ecover, I buy Fairtrade, I buy Co-Op own brand eco products, where I can.

It’s an easy decision. Quality is similar, as is price. A no-brainer.

But when I buy non-obvious products, like mobile broadband, I sometimes forget to think about the ethics of it.

Looking back, I should have bought Vodafone’s offering.

It wasn’t as compelling, in terms of price and promise, but at least Vodafone cares about corporate responsibility. Three blatantly does not. After all, the product could not have been worse than that of Three.

There are other examples of inconsistency in my shopping life. Airline choice, for example.

My point is that shopping on corporate responsibility principles is a lot harder than buying on niche ethical ideals.

But we should all try to remember to do it, as much as we can.

If we, those that work in the industry and make up most readers of this blog, don’t do it, then no-one will.

That doesn’t stop a lot of these big firms that are into CR doing well, of course, but if we can reward say, O2 over Three, then we should, shouldn’t we?

1 Comment

  1. Helen Seibel

    I just read an interesting article on cause marketing that looks at ethical products and is a bit skeptical of their real impact on true philanhropy. There are some intersections with what you write here. It appeared SSIR Summer 2009 edition and is called The Hidden Costs of Cause Marketing: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_hidden_costs_of_cause_marketing/

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