Fast Company

Shopping Aggregators, Now With More Heart

Roozt has a big heart. And it wants you to buy in to its idealism.

It calls itself a place that "makes it fun, easy and rewarding to discover, shop and share the trendiest cause-related brands and products under one roof."

The idea is that "shoppers get real 'change' for their dollar" because instead of merely buying products A or B or stylish attire C from a standard retailer, they're also contributing to something like a charity or a foundation or a group pressuring for change. Dodge past the slightly odd trendy angle here, which suggests the site is a sort of chic shopping experience suitable for families who drop their kids to school in a brand-new top-rank Range Rover, and there's a nugget of a great idea. And it lines up with a growing trend of cause-related business models.

Roozt is kind of one-size-fits-all in its definition of cause: "global humanitarian, eco-friendly, ethical or community-support" are the sorts of positive-vibe riders it attaches to the goods it aggregates. It's carefully curated, though, to keep the mood of the site consistent--things that are both popular and trendy--items like WeWood watches (where a tree is planted for every timepiece bought) or the buy-one/give-one Sir Richard's Condoms.

And it's tapping into a large market--the site's founder Brent Freeman notes that there are more than 30,000 socially responsible brands in the U.S. alone and that the ethical/sustainable products market grew nearly 15% in 2010, to a now $40 billion-plus per year marketspace. 82% of all Americans, the company asserts, say they want to buy from cause-related brands.

But where before you'd have to scour the web to look for ethical shopping experiences served up by individual firms, Roozt pulls them all into one place.

And sure, there's that slightly odd post-modern-trendy-hippy feeling to the notion of choosing to shop for not just ethical products but "popular" ones. But if the site works out, and genuinely does attract many shoppers to buy ethical brands rather than their more typical purchases (which, if you believe the stats, they're largely buying because it's more convenient to do so) then why worry? It'll lead to more money being channeled to better causes than filling the coffers of Rolex or Dolce & Gabanna. And that's at least an interesting way to innovate your business model.

[Image: Flickr user sasastro]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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