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Ethical buying gets smartphone smarts

Conscious Consumers, the Kiwi organisation that accredits businesses for ethical and environmentally friendly practices like stocking fairtrade products and recycling waste, hopes its recently launched smartphone app will go global.

The app hones in on the 100 hospitality companies and 75 associated suppliers consumers can find when they’re out and about in their city. It allows them to find accredited businesses nearby and check in to get points, rewards and special offers from those businesses.

Users can also see the accreditations or badges the business has earned by being part of Conscious Consumers’ programme. The app’s main target is Gen Y users who want to use mobile technology to support ethical businesses, says national director Ben Gleisner.

“They’re coming into that generation and wnat to know where to eat and drink and are hugely caring about environmental awareness, so much greater than when I was growing up, and they’re technology savvy,” he says.

“The app is a reflection of that desire to use mobile technology in all part of life and to do good and be informed about environmental and social issues.”

The next sectors on the organisation’s radar to add to the app are events and festivals, clothing and fashion, health and beauty, and accommodation and tourism. The functionality for events is easily replicated from the hospitality offering and is about 80 percent complete, says Gleisner.

“The idea is the consumer has a GPS map of everything going on at the vent, like music stages and food stalls and waste stations.”

In accommodation and tourism, it would look to work alongside Qualmark’s existing quality and environmental certification. Gleisner adds about 60 percent of Conscious Consumers’ audience are women and many have emailed saying it’s hard to know which businesses “are legitimate in terms of animal testing and things like that”.

That makes health and beauty a logical addition to the app, he says.

The app was developed by Wellington web agency Little Monkey, using Codename One, software that lets developers create native cross-platform apps. That’s an important part of Conscious Consumers’ strategy as it aims to take the app global.

Android and iOS offerings have been released and Windows and Blackberry versions are planned.

Conscious Consumers is in talks with organisations in Barcelona, London, Melbourne and San Francisco about rolling out its programme and the app for their use. 

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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