November 7, 2017
A pre-election CNN/ORC poll has found that nearly 70% of Americans are either “very angry” or “somewhat angry” about the state of affairs nationwide. As one way of relieving their stress, many have adopted a new generation of shopping-assistant apps to help them avoid doing business with companies that don’t match their values.
“A lot of people are calling it ‘angerware’,” according to Erin Ferguson, founder and CEO of the startup Shoulder Angel —a provider of ethics-driven shopping assistance software. “I suppose that description fits our Harvey Weinstein movie boycott feature well as any,” she continued, “but most of what we do is actually about positive action and the increasing willingness of Millennial consumers to spend more on goods and services they deem to be ethical and sustainable.”
Indeed, a Nielsen survey on ethical consumerism that was conducted around the same time as the CNN/ORC poll found that up to 66% of consumers would be willing to pay more for ethically responsible goods—and that figure climbs to 72% Millennials.
How does it work? The company says that its proprietary graph technology traces “multiple, complex ethical relationships” and provides the consumer with a variety of alternative purchases.”
For example, a consumer who is looking for contraceptive products would be warned by Shoulder Angel that her employer’s insurance plan no longer covers such necessities and steered to another option.
In addition, the app covers pending and approved legislation; as well as . the politicians who vote for those bills and the companies that give money to these politicians. It is not uncommon, therefore, for Shoulder Angel to warn a user against products that are “made by companies… that have funded politicians… who have voted against laws…”, when those laws adversely impact one of the user’s causes.
“The app was designed with Millennial consumers in mind,” stated Andrew Montgomery, Shoulder Angel’s Chief Technology Officer. “Thus far, cruelty free cosmetics are our number-one seller for this age group. Millennials seem to be less about anger than positive action.”
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