23 Dec SPOTLIGHT ON: GOOD ON YOU
Make A Difference While you Shop – Taking Ethical Consumption to the Next Level
We’ve been waiting patiently for the app that will make our ethical purchasing decisions easier. Now, the revolutionary app Good On You has solved that problem. It’s an app which rates different brands on how “good” their contribution to people and planet is. We were lucky enough to catch up with founder Gordon Renouf after the company recently hit its crowdfunding campaign, signing up 10,000 users in the first week.
What was the inspiration behind Good on You?
When Gordon worked at CHOICE – Australian’s largest consumer organisation – it was obvious to him that many people were also interested in making better choices but just don’t know where to start looking, and this is part of the inspiration behind Good on You.
“I’ve always been personally interested in knowing how a product I’m considering impacts on people and the world around us – but for most products it’s really hard to find this out. I’m also concerned about ways we as a community can make the world a better place. I see a real opportunity to connect up people’s concerns as citizens who want a better world with the power they have to directly influence change through their shopping choices.”
For Renouf, it wasn’t necessarily that there was no information on the ethical performance of companies, although this is true in some product categories and of some brands, the problem was that the information out there wasn’t available to consumers in a way that makes it really easy to act on.
It was clear to him that a large majority of people care about our impacts on people, the planet and animals. The challenge was translating their concerns into real change. It was a question of creating tools that are available to busy shoppers when and where they need them. This is how Good On You was born.
How does Good On You work?
The app lists each of the 3,000 fashion and accessory brands that are available in the largest 100 shopping Centres in Australia. The app provides ethical brand ratings based on publically available information from certification schemes, independent scorecards and, where appropriate, from the brands themselves.
Good On You brand ratings are comprehensive yet easy to grasp. This is because it’s important to understand that shoppers who may be in the middle of a purchase decision in a busy mall, want to know this information quickly. Good On You’s aim is for people to see quickly and clearly how a brand stacks up.
Good On You has around 1000 brands rated with more being added every week. Each brand listing shows alternative, better rated brands with a similar style and price. At the moment the app the ratings include hundreds of popular mainstream brands and a good selection of smaller, less well-known and often super-ethical brands.
The app also includes practical features that help people make a better purchase choice. There’s no point in telling someone about a well-rating brand and then leaving them with no idea where to buy it – the app shows stockists near your location and links to maps to show you the way.
Another feature that’s been very popular is ‘Your Voice’. This lets shoppers connect directly with companies to give them positive feedback, urge them to do better if they’re not performing well, or ask a question. As more and more people let brands know that their ethical practices matter to consumers, we can expect to see real change in how these issues are dealt with.
Do you think its harder for social enterprises to get off the ground in Australia?
Social enterprises are becoming popular amongst younger generations of business startups, but the challenges to financing them are often great. Renouf’s advice is to maintain your vision and passion:
“I think that creating digital social enterprises are challenging in Australia. It’s sometimes harder for people to grasp the social impact story behind a digital project; on the other hand they have the potential to be really transformational if they reach their goals”
It probably depends on what kind of social enterprise you aim to create to address the social problem that you are passionate about. For Good On You, reaching scale is a big issue. If we make it so easy to make shopping choices based on your values that millions of people do so then brands will have strong incentives to improve their human rights, environmental and animal welfare performance. If they don’t they’ll just be left behind.
What do you hope Good on You will do for People & Planet?
For the Good On You team, the goal is to see a world where it is just as easy to know the impact of a product on the issues you care about as it is to know its price or the colours it comes in. If that was the case, then hundreds of millions of people would make different shopping choices on a regular basis, and that would have a huge impact on the sustainability of products we are creating.
This would create a virtuous race to the top – brands would be competing to see which was the best at meeting shoppers’ ethical values as well as their practical and price needs.
What’s next for Good on You?
The future is bright for Good On You. With a huge response to their app, the team’s focus is on tweaking the app to make it as useful as possible, then growing their user base and the number of ethical brands that can be promoted. Runoff says:
“We’re now looking for the right advisers and impact investors to help grow this social business. We’ve had a lot of coverage in international media and a lot of interest from overseas consumers which has been extremely encouraging. People genuinely want to make better shopping choices, and are excited about the potential of Good On You. That’s what’s driving us at the moment.”
As this is the time of year for giving, make your next purchase with the assistance of Good on You. That way you really can shop to make a difference.
Interview with Gordon Renouf by Anna Reeves
Find Good on You here.