Living in: San Francisco
Gig: Software Engineer
Last great movie, TV show, or podcast?
How would you describe it?
It’s an amalgamation and distillation of the video games and horror genres that preceded it—an attempt to get at the perfect scare tactic.
What is your one major source of news?
The New York Times
What brands do you have on you right now?
I have some LL Bean, Hydro Flask, Apple and Nike.
Why do you like these brands? Any connection with Nike, for example?
I don’t really care about Nike but the LL Bean stuff I feel pretty good about.
They’ve got high-quality stuff and everyone I interact with at a store of theirs is always really nice. I like their policies. They actually let me exchange my fifth grade backpack for a proper backpack recently.
Do any of the brands have any shared value or socially-conscious programs that you’re aware of?
Not as far as I know.
Let’s say there was a competitor to LL Bean that had a special sustainability program or did something that was especially helpful to society. Would that sway your purchasing decisions?
If everything else were the same, then it probably would. But everything else would have to be the same. The quality, the exchange program, everything.
Are there any brands that you think are negative for society?
Nestle. They will go into a water source, even in California, and will take water to sell bottled water elsewhere. They had a thing in South America in the ‘90s with baby formula. They were giving away at a fairly low cost to mothers down there at a fairly low cost to mothers down there, but the babies became dependent on it. Then they raised their prices. (Editor’s note: A boycott of Nestle was first launched in 1977 in protest of its aggressive marketing of baby formula to mothers in Third World countries who, experts believe, would have been better off sticking to breastfeeding. That said, it’s a complicated issue, so please do your own research on the subject.)
As a result, do you stay away from Nestle products?
I definitely don’t buy their bottled water. I’m more cognizant of Nestle, but since they own so many different brands it’s difficult to avoid them all.
Do you do any charitable work of your own?
No I don’t.
BoTS Insight: Michael exemplifies a realistic consumer in today’s marketplace. He wants his purchase decisions to support businesses that promote sustainability and shared values, but realizes the difficulty in navigating a complicated web of brands with unclear ownership. Ultimately he buys brands he feels good about in terms of quality and customer experience. If these brands have a positive benefit on society, it’s even better. Bonus tip: LL Bean should make a greater effort in communicating its own charity efforts. The company has donated millions of dollars to conservation and outdoor recreation causes, as well as health and human services, education, culture, and the arts. Michael—a big fan of the brand—wasn’t aware of this.