Giving What We Can focuses on directing income to effective causes. Is there room for an organisation that instead focuses on directing consumption to effective causes?
Picture this: you're in a store and there's three products: one is a ordinary box of cereal, the second is a cereal box that says some proceeds will be donated to build a new shed for the boy scouts and the third says some proceeds will be donated to an effective cause, such as vitamin fortification.
Most consumers mix their hedons and utilons. It is possible that purchasing the third cereal will have a greater impact than if that consumer had donated the full purchase amount to an ordinary charity instead? The cereal actually acts as an advertisement for effective giving and will direct funding from consumers (who may or may not otherwise may not donate) to effective causes.
I am interested in information, views, co-founders, and collaborators interested in taking effectiveness oriented products to market. This operation could be self-sustained by profits or surplus revenue (depending on if profit or not for profit) in the longer term and contribute to the overall EA ecosystem. If there are good reasons not to pursue this project that we discover later, or through views shared in the comments, this will not proceed.
There is a proven, seemingly growing market for products that differentiate themselves on doing good. This may be part of the larger movement towards Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and ethical consumption.
I'll use some examples from Australia where I live. The Thank You brand, widely available in Australian supermarkets, seemingly relatively recently entered the crowded but obviously large household goods market, differentiating themselves solely with packaging clearly earmarking that sales would contribute to good causes.
Who Gives A Crap is a toilet paper brand, also widely available in Australian supermarkets, that has done the same.
If consumers are purchasing those products because of the relative impact of those decisions, compared with ordinary products, it is plausible they would defect to purchasing products with an even greater positive impact.
However, the aforementioned products don't appear to face competition on impact. Yet.
A secondary pathway to impact of this initiative could be the shaping of the behaviour of brands that market themselves on impact to give to more effective charities to compete on impact. However, there may be a need for an impact oriented alternative to exert continued pressure in that direction. It's possible those original brands may instead try to differentiate themselves in other ways, or adopt aggressive tactics against the EA movement as a whole. This seems less likely due to potential damage to their reputations as good doing organisations.
The central assumption this initiative would test is that consumers are more likely to defect to a product with greater impact. This information is likely to have significant value to the community even if unsuccessful.
From the aforementioned examples, like Thank You, which I think entered the market with a bottled water product focussed on the need for clean drinking water in resource poor settings, consumer hearts are open to thinking about nasty but important things like deworming when they're buying say, their Gifting What We Can (or whatever we call it) branded soy milk (or whatever we take to market).