We live in a world where consumers vote with their dollars.
Every time you make a purchase, whether you realize it or not, you are saying whether you are for or against some aspect of society. When you buy organic products instead of non-organic products, that’s a vote. When you buy reusable goods instead of single-use plastics, that’s a vote. When you buy a Tesla instead of a Ford, that’s a vote. Through these aggregate “votes” we see change in the world
But to make these conscious purchasing decisions, we need information.
We need to know that burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment, and driving an electric car reduces your carbon footprint, for example. We need to know the impact of our current actions, as well as the anticipated impact of our changed actions. In some industries, this is conventional wisdom. Beauty products, food products, and consumer packaged goods are marketed in ways that are intended, to some degree, to persuade target audiences with new information that some products are “cleaner” or “healthier” than others.
Over the past ten or so years, we have seen a huge shift in consumer behavior, with more and more people becoming “conscious consumers.” In one example, according to a study conducted by IBM, “Nearly six in 10 consumers surveyed were willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.” In short: purpose-driven consumers are becoming a larger and larger part of the global economy.
And yet, in the software industry, these types of consumer trends are only now starting to present themselves.
So when it comes to software, the concept of making “conscious purchasing decisions” hasn’t really existed. Rarely will you see a company make a six-figure software purchase based on more than just feature set and price. And yet, similar to other industries, it’s becoming clear that stakeholders would like to make more conscious decisions—if they had the ability. For example, businesses want to be able to work with other companies based on criteria beyond just price and efficiency.
They want to know:
- Does this business care about diversity?
- Is the company’s board of directors all white males? Are there any women on board? Anyone of color?
- How diverse is the workforce? Do you have employees from different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations? Is that important to you?
These are questions that companies big and small are asking themselves—wanting to align with other likeminded companies who share similar values. I want this year, in 2021, to begin to see the “conscious consumer” make his or her way into the software landscape.
Company purchasing decisions also reflect personal values.
We should live in a world where if you want to buy software from a diverse team or company, you should be able to. If you don’t want to renew a contract because a vendor’s values no longer align with your own, you should have the information to make that decision.
“Conscious consumerism” has caused meaningful changes to happen in a wide variety of industries all over the world. But over the next few years, we need to see a second wave of conscious consumerism on the corporate side—one in which decision-makers begin to make purchasing decisions informed by data. This is actually one of the initiatives we’ve been working on here at Clearfind, providing companies with answers to these complicated but largely objective questions.
A great article was published in 2019 titled, What B2B Brands Can Learn From Conscious Consumerism, and the most interesting takeaway is that B2B purchasing decisions are just as emotionally driven as B2C. At the end of the day, it’s a human who is deciding where to spend money and why. And the same way CPG brands and food companies have started to enable consumers to spend their money more wisely and “vote” for businesses doing good in the world, that same trend needs to carry through the B2B landscape.
I believe the world would be a fundamentally better place if some of the largest companies in the world could vote consciously as well.
Let’s make that future right around the corner.