Global warming - overflowing landfills - pesticide filled food... ish! The lists of things that need to be fixed are endless. Luckily the solution starts and ends with you, the consumer, and in particular the female consumer. In case you don't know...
- The majority of America’s GDP, Gross Domestic Product is made up of consumer goods.
- 80% of consumer products are purchased or “influenced/specified” by women.
- Capitalism knows no borders, what happens here goes global.
For women of a certain age (me included), remember those idealist days of our 20s when anything was possible? The influence of student and political protests helped to end the Viet Nam war. Title IX put equality into our schools and we began receiving equal access to education and work. We ARE the product of those years and rather than accept our mother’s retirement package we're rediscovering our strengths.
Good for us. The world needs our balance and hindsight, but what can we do at that can truly change the world? Become consumer consultants.
A what? Ok, I just made up the name “consumer consultant” and yet that is precisely what women are becoming on the Internet. Check it out. Go to www.epinions.com, www.judysbook.com or Google “COMPARE ________”... you’ll get tons of sites that will not only offer product comparisons, but provide ways to leave your opinion about a business, product or service behind for others to read. Quicken 2007; the software for personal finances, will connect you directly to their consumer commentary site www.zipingo.com. As you’re checking off payments, you can write whether the experience was worth it. Would it surprise you to know that the majority of people who write up multiple reviews on Judy’s Book are all women? Probably not.
Why do women write more reviews? Because as the head of household purchasing, we buy more and when we buy more, we have more to say about the buying/using experience. We also write more because frankly, we like to tell others about the great deal they got or warn others away from something that stinks. We do it everyday in face-to-face situations; the Internet just upped the exposure and made it available long after the spoken word goes silent. That kind of word of mouth sharing, layered on top of yellow page type directories is called “social search.” You search for what you want, but with it, you also get opinions – that’s the social side.
How can these opinions possibly change the world into a better place? One reason - women's values now rules consumer business and business will do anything to win us over.
Being cut-throat isn’t a women’s value. Helping one another is. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why all these women-helping-women organizations are popping up when we’ve worked so hard to be “equal”? Surely something must be lacking in society at large. Having safe, ecological products for our homes and the planet are also in line with our values.
We live in a time whereby capitalism rules the world. Even communistic China is living under the rules of capitalism. Nothing affects social change faster than messing with someone’s bottom line in a free trade world.
Need more proof of how well this is working? Before the Internet, companies ran focus groups and pushed out products that were less than female-friendly because “some guy” at the top of corporate thought it was cool, i.e. the racy advertising we’ve been forced to look at for the last 3 decades. Today, those ads are disappearing, products are becoming more practical and services are more female-friendly because women are publicly speaking their mind. It happened in less than 3 years for the Super Bowl to clean up it's act.
Why is this working now?
Women have always been the majority buyer and they’ve always spoke their mind when it came to goods and services. The only difference today is that the Internet is capturing and amplifying our voices, forming a permanent record of discontent. No one wants to have a black mark forever on their product. No one wants to have a poor rating that can’t be removed only pushed to the bottom of the reviews by more reviews that are hopefully good. Put a black dot on a white piece of paper and that’s all anyone sees regardless of all the white that surrounds it. Put a bad rating up on a company and it takes A LOT of good to offset it.
It’s not natural selection at work, it's self regulation.
E-Bay doesn’t have any “rules” to obey and yet everyone does their best to be good business citizens. If they aren’t, they aren’t in business. Do people try to cheat the system? Sure, but they don’t last for long. Someone ferrets them out and goes public. In the end, honesty IS the best policy and consistency IS the best marketing practice.
How can you change the world? The next time you love a product or hate a service, let others know. At the same time, rant about over packaging or "throw away convenience" that we later pay for in a landfill.
It takes a couple minutes of your time and you’ve helped a company get understand how to make their offerings better. (and all the other competitors reading their reviews) Imagine how fast you’d straighten up your professional act under these circumstances. This works on big and small companies.
There is no place to hide in this transparent world. Even sales people are being retrained how to really take care of their customers. That’s where you come in again. Sales training has always been geared for men selling to men. Companies are having a hard time knowing how to sell to women. Help them out. Tell them what you like and kindly give them a warning shot on what disturbs you. Everyone deserves a second chance. Give them ONE second chance to make good, then don’t go back and go public with what happened if you’re still upset.
Small acts of enlightened consumerism can change the world.
Meditation, prayer, politics… all help, but only purchasing and posting your opinions will have a fast, cumulative effect on a company’s reputation and bottom line.
Do you want to change the world? Change your buying habits and watch how fast capitalism will follow the money.