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Walk into a grocery store these days and you will likely find that shortage of options is not an issue. Whether choosing flavors of bottled water or growing locale of a bushel of apples, you are the king, queen, and chief justice of choice.So what does that make you, me, and the billions of other buyers of goods and services—are we consumers…or voters? And what factors will tip us over the edge in deciding whether to pay or pass on something.Here are a few common factors that come to mind when deciding whether to buy a grocery product:
– cost (price, cost per serving, sales/promotions, incentives, bulk/bargain buys)
– nutrition (low calorie, low fat, high protein, gluten free, not gluten free, etc.)
– availability
– expiration date

but with a shifting focus on sustainability, health, and reducing our carbon footprint, a few more factors can come in play:
– was it grown locally?
– is it organic?
– fair trade?
– were hormones/pesticides used?
– did the company use sustainable practices?
– is the company a responsible employer?

voting or shopping

All of these various factors can complicate a simple grocery run for bread and milk—to say the least.

Certifications and badges can help guide our choices. For example the Guayaki bottle of organic mint yerba mate tea on the right features a mini display case of badges denoting its various certifications. And these can be decidedly helpful—if we know what they stand for & if we are on board with the certification process.

Guayaki notes its approval as a B corp—which is of special interest to me as that entails a number of other factors including social and environmental considerations.

Do certifications make a difference when you shop?
And do companies actually benefit by being evaluated for certifications?

Whether we see them as such or not, our purchases ($.25 or $25,000) are also votes for a particular product, brand, or type of product. Just as you cast a ballot for your favorite candidate, ‘voting’ for a product makes a statement to companies, suppliers, buyers, and retailers.

Arguably, however, no matter how aligned with our values a product may be, if it doesn’t meet our basic consumer instincts (i.e. do you love it? is it a good value?) it may not make it off the shelf and into our carts.

So, consumers or voters? I would venture to say both—and to examine further—we may see ourselves as consumers first and voters subsequent.  As ever, am curious to hear broader feedback :)