Waitrose is perhaps the last of the major retailers you’d expect to start a revolution. Yet occasionally they lead on something really innovative. In the words of The Beatles:
You tell me that it’s evolution. Well you know we all want to change the world.
It should thus be no surprise that Waitrose’s new initiative in support of B Corp products is relatively understated. With a good range of 45 products it’s a great start in highlighting a growing trend in international business, but merchandised as they are on a “virtual” shelf you’ve got to be searching Waitrose.com for “bcorp” to know they are there.
So what is a B Corp? B Corps are a new – and rapidly emerging – group of businesses that balance purpose and profit. They are committed to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
Does it matter? Well, Edelman PR’s latest survey on Trust in the UK found that only 48% of people believe business works in a way that is good for society. Over two thirds of these complained that “making profit is more important than looking after people”.
Too many business headlines are made by tales such as Carillion’s collapse, the BHS pension hole and Tesco’s accounting scandal. For industry to retain credibility we need to hear more of the B Corp philosophy of “people using business as a force for good”.
In uncertain times people are demanding brands they can trust – on an increasingly wide range of societal issues – and with brands such as Danone, Innocent, Ella’s Kitchen and Patagonia now B Corp certified there are some high-profile brands on this march.
Which brings us back to Waitrose. Real change can happen when a few passionate voices come together around a shared purpose. It doesn’t always start with a big bang.
So whisper it, but just as Organics started small and grew to £ billions, this Waitrose initiative could be the first step in a new consumer revolution.