Imagine a marketplace where you can buy — or not buy — products and services that accelerate social innovation by redefining the capitalist narrative; a place where you can purchase or sell “goods for good” from companies or to consumers around the world. Look no further come February 12, when the COMMON Marketplace makes its official debut.
Developed by COMMON, the world’s first “collaborative brand” made up of a community of creative and business professionals, the organization says the new online marketplace is a place where “goods for good” can be bought and sold. In order to sell on the Marketplace, companies must apply and meet a set of design, sustainability and collaborative criteria.
At first, the COMMON Marketplace might sound similar to the TOMS Marketplace, launched in November by TOMS Shoes, which features a curated collection of 200 socially conscious products from 30 different companies, each with a meaningful story and an ethos and commitment matching TOMS’ to giving to those in need. But COMMON says its Marketplace differs from TOMS' more cause-related offering and pure shopping sites such as Given Goods in that anyone can invite others to the community or nominate, suggest and vote in the products they would like to see.
In the past, COMMON has nurtured the social entrepreneurial movement through several “Pitch” Events in Brooklyn, NY; Boulder, CO; Milwaukee, WI; Cape Town, South Africa; and Santiago, Chile. The organization says it plans to soon expand to other U.S. cities, as well as to Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Turkey and Kenya. COMMON regularly conducts Maniacal Business Attacks (MBAs) — four-day, deep-dive strategic mapping sessions — to realign traditional businesses around the new social enterprise space and to help launch new enterprises.
Now with its new marketplace, COMMON is expanding its approach to supporting socially responsible businesses. The company says it hopes to launch with 100 ventures and/or products that represent all the different moments in what it calls the COMMON Day: “a day in which everything you do is done with eyes wide open, with choices made to the benefit of the planet and those of us on it, a day in which products and companies that have ‘good’ at their core start replacing all the greedy bad-apple products out there.”
Another interesting (and potentially confusing) offering that sets COMMON's Marketplace apart will literally be “nothing.” A continuation of the company's Buy One Get Nothing campaign that ran last Black Friday, users can register their pledge to abstain from consuming something. Purely symbolic in nature, the “buy nothing” option is intended to build awareness of mass overconsumption and remind people to make smart daily choices in what to consume (or not consume).
“Rather than being a ‘shopping site’ — a place to worship at the altar of consumerism and the love of shopping in itself — we offer people the chance to make smart daily choices in what they consume (or not),” said Mark Eckhardt, partner & co-CEO at COMMON. “These include choices that are good for the planet and all the creatures on it, without asking them to join a religion of green or cause-related marketing.”