Jon’s Radio Comments

November 28, 2006

Justifying the feel-good labels

Filed under: Uncategorized — jonsradiocomments @ 4:03 pm

The original item is here.



  1. This discussion makes me thing of, which was kind of a cool idea… though I don’t think has been very successful. Essentially they’re using Amazon’s API, to layer on top of it information about the social resposibility of the respective companies.

    Comment by James Cook — November 28, 2006 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  2. Perhaps we need some rough estimating work to be done and shared so we can get a sense of the 80/20 aspects of it (in other words, get a sense as to whether cases like multiple suppliers for a single component require a detailed handling).

    Comment by Bill Seitz — November 28, 2006 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

  3. This idea is completely predicated on the assumption that consumers want and value this type of data to the extent that companies could or should expend the capital required to provide this information and to realign their businesses around it.

    While it’s great in concept and it may come to pass some day as systems and information continue to drop in price, I don’t think there’s a large enough demand for this type of information because (like it or not) most people simply don’t give that much consideration to environmental concerns.

    The analogy breaks down when you compare produce to FedEx packages. There is undeniable value in knowing where your package is as it relates to its time of arrival. Tracking packages for timeliness is paramount to the reason why people use FedEx, but most people don’t care if the package traveled from LA to Memphis to Tucson as long as it arrives on time. Sorry, but it’s true.

    The environmental impact of a production/delivery process for a given product is far from the primary reason why the great majority of consumers do or don’t purchase a given product, especially food. Taste, appearance, safety and price trump environmental impact for the great majority of buyers. You can see this thinking in adcyion every day: many of the same people who claim to care about preserving American manufacturing jobs at all costs are the first ones in line when Walmart has a Black Friday sale on Korean and Malaysian TVs.

    My point is simple: the system your suggesting makes sense for products and customers where environmental impact is the greatest concern, but that’s simply not the case for the great majority of products and customers, so it doesn’t make sense for most IT shops to consider this idea as something that will give them a competitive edge.

    One last tangential example:

    Do you think a report like this will keep people from buying Priuses? Not likely — Prius buyers want to *feel* like their helping the environment and they want to be *perceived* as environmentally aware even if the truth is much more complicated.

    Comment by Bradley Cain — November 28, 2006 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  4. The reality is that consumers *do* want and value this kind of data. I agree that not all consumers want it, but many, like myself, Jon and others find it useful.

    Organic Valley Coop (who’s chocolate soy milk is very, very tasty, IMHO) is working toward this kind of supply chain transparency. For example, for its line of soy milks, you can enter a code from the box and see the origin farm of those soy beans. The application could benefit from more work (a Google Map of the farm), but it’s a start.

    Find My Farmer

    Comment by Rob Davis — December 4, 2006 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

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