A new ‘ethical app’ from the Good Shopping Guide has managed to get pretty much everything wrong, ranking brands that have done more than most on sustainability and ethical trade as bad, and allowing some rather surprising ones to slip through the net. It’s a mobile recipe card for consumer confusion and manages to be even more misleading than some brands’ green claims – so rather an own goal there. I expect a number of the companies and brands featured on this silly toy will rightly complain.
We all know that business focussed ratings indices like Dow Jones and FTSE4Good have taken a beating in the last year (you’ll recall that nice sustainable company BP topped a lot of them for years). Let’s be honest – most of these rankings, consumer focussed or not, are barely worth the sustainable paper they’re written on (if you’re lucky). A colleague in the retail sector made his view clear on this at a recent client workshop we ran. When he chooses whether to source a product or not, he’s less interested in how many labels or rankings it has been given than the information he gets when he looks the brand managers in the eye and asks the questions that matter to him and his customers. He put it very nicely: what he likes to do is ‘look under the bonnet and kick the tyres’ himself. Only in this way is he satisfied (or not) that his company should be buying from that supplier. Kick the tyres of this Good Shopping Guide app and you’ll probably find their tread is a thin as the thinking behind it, and in need of urgent replacement. It certainly isn’t roadworthy.