There is a lot of power in the dollars consumers spend. They call this purchasing power. Individually, this power may be relatively unnoticeable but collectively, this power has a huge impact. Consumer demand – what we choose to spend our money on – dictates what gets produced, what trends stick and alternatively, what doesn’t last on the market shelf. If we support products because they are cheaper – no matter where, how and who makes them – these products stick around. On the other hand, if we use our purchasing power to spend our income on products that are consciously made with consideration to environmental sustainability and people around the world – socially conscious products will stick too.
Social consumerism enables us to help ourselves while helping others. As a customer, by simply purchasing a socially-conscious product (doing your research, checking company claims, buying the product, etc.) you have the chance to better the lives of others and/or conserve the environment. In turn, the artisans and local producers of those resources have the chance to better their lives and supply their products to new markets. Consequently, the lives of people locally and internationally improve, while possibly having the extra bonus of environmental sustainability and raising funds for a good cause.
That being said, corporations and social causes can also benefit from social consumerism. By either carrying socially-conscious product in their product line or utilizing these products in their corporate gifting programs, companies can give back to the international community, garner positive PR and work towards long-term sustainable development. Additionally, philanthropy has a new look with social consumerism. By investing in micro-loans towards entrepreneurs in developing countries, using socially-conscious merchandise in fundraising and promoting the power of social consumerism – philanthropy and charity can make a larger and more sustainable impact. Each stakeholder in this process has much to gain in the long-run, since social consumerism is above all – sustainable.
Going to the grocery store, taking your teenage daughter out for a shopping spree, buying your brother the latest video game, or purchasing a new sofa for your living room – these task typically require you considering things like quality, colour, texture, fit, shape and more. Now, it’s time to consider where its from, who made it, what social conditions it was made in and how its production affected the environment. It is when we ask these questions that we will be socially-conscious consumers.