An event where people support an environmentally-friendly store by gathering en masse to purchase the store's products. Also: carrot mob.
Forget sticks, and stick with carrots instead. So says Brent Schulkin, founder of a fledgling movement of activist consumers employing a kind of reverse boycott that he calls a carrotmob. The concept is simple: instead of steering clear of environmentally backward stores, why not reward businesses with mass purchases if they promise to use some of the money to get greener?
—Jeremy Caplan, "Shoppers, Unite! Carrotmobs Are Cooler than Boycotts," Time, May 15, 2009
Ranjeet Singh's convenience store might not seem like the kind of place that would draw a lot of Internet-savvy environmentalists. He sells the usual convenience-store staples of canned soup, cookies, dish soap, beer and cigarettes.
But unlike some of his competitors, Singh has agreed to install energy-efficient light bulbs in his store.
That small gesture of environmental consciousness has won Singh the support of local "greens," who plan to show their appreciation Saturday by "mobbing" Singh's Fremont Boulevard store with their patronage.
Today, with MySpace, Facebook, blogging, Twitter, Digg and YouTube calls to action, a single post from a credible, connected source such as Schulkin can mobilise what web expert Howard Rheingold calls a "smart mob" in an instant. Once rallied, the transition from online interest to offline activity is somewhat trickier, but CarrotMobbing is an activity people are happy with. It is about shopping. Milk, bread, beer: staples. There is no complicated barrier to entry. "We're not saying, come to the rally and chant against your enemy," says Schulkin. "CarrotMobs are fun community events. We're not asking you to go to some natural food store you've never heard of and buy some product you don't know how to use. It's familiar brands and familiar things to do."
—Tanis Taylor, "Meet the CarrotMob," The Guardian, September 18, 2008
The noun carrotmob comes from the name of the Carrotmob website, where a helpful FAQ explains the "carrot" portion of the name:
There's an old saying that there are two ways to make a donkey walk forward: Either offer a delicious carrot out in front of it, or hit its behind with a stick. Think of businesses as the donkeys. Traditional consumer activism uses a lot of sticks, such as protests, lawsuits, boycotts, and so on. We want to use the carrot instead. We believe that we can get businesses to make big positive changes by offering them profits in return.
Many thanks to reader Sharon Ede for passing this one along.