2 Steps to Winning Cash Register Activists Who Are Impacting Business Growth
Cash register activism

Winning over cash register activists is crucial to business growth today.  How do you do it?

Businesses now walk a marketing tightrope in an America divided over values. The sales challenge is how to win customers who are increasingly demanding both value and alignment with their values.

Growth  in Cash Register Activism

Here’s the good news if your business is trying to stay out of America’s culture war! Seventy-five percent of consumers still buy based on price and/or convenience. But what has changed is that 25% of consumers are making procurement decisions based on how a business aligns with their values. The sales threat is not just losing these customers; cash register activists are influencers who are increasingly impacting how the other 75% make purchases.

Three Types of Cash Register Consumer Activist

The Shelton Group, a marketing communications agency focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, just released research identifying the following three types of cash register activists who have made their values core to what they buy and who they buy from:

  • Choosers:

This group makes purchases based on a company’s social or environmental record.

  • Stoppers:

They have stopped buying something because of a company’s social or environmental record.

  • Changelings:

These shoppers are both buying based on values and have stopped buying something because a company is not aligned with their values.


These are millennials who are now America’s largest demographic in terms of customers and work associates. Sixty percent of Choosers are buying from companies because they have decided they trust them based on their environmental and/or social responsibility performance.

Choosers trust because they do their homework on who to buy from. Chooser are educated and invest research time in figuring out what companies are walking their talk on corporate and environmental responsibility.

Uniquely, Choosers trust big companies more than small companies. One reason could be that big companies are using their larger social media presence to pitch their values and values performance. There is also the realty that these large companies are more likely to have affiliations with the NGOs that millennials follow on social media.

Some better news for all businesses seeking to win this cohort is that they are very people focused. They view companies as “good” based on their donations toward community causes and how they treat work associates. How you treat your work associates and your community contributions, therefore, are the small business path to winning Choosers.


These are boomers. They are downsizing their lives. They are shaping their downsized procurements by no longer buying from companies that fail to align with their values.

No shock to millennials or GenZers, this cohort underweights a company’s sustainability commitment when deciding what to buy. Alternatively, they overweight a company’s commitment to its work associates, social causes, and social issues. But critically important for this cohort, they are much less trusting of all companies. They have to be sold on a business being trustworthy. TV and Facebook are the most effective messaging paths to Choosers.

Finally, this group’s procurement decisions can be influenced by a business demonstrating a religious commitment. Think Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby.


This is GenZ. They are both buying, and refusing to buy, based on a company’s social and environmental record.

How strongly do Changelings feel about the environment? Because they view climate change as an existential threat, they put more procurement weight on a product’s environmental footprint than their comfort and convenience.

Here’s the good news for small businesses: Changelings trust small businesses much more than big businesses.

To sell to Changeling GenZers a business must appreciate that their mission is to change the world. For them, doing good things is good but not good enough. A trusted company is committed to joining them in economic decarbonization to stop climate change. Think Tesla. Think Impossible Foods. Don’t think ExxonMobile!

The Two Steps to Winning Values Customers

There are two critical steps to winning cash register consumer activists.

The first is to authentically make a difference on behalf of people and planet. And this begins with your work associates. To cash register activists that means paying at least a living wage while also recognizing their humanity and providing them a career path. Fail here and your business is on the cash register activist’s highway off ramp.

Then, get real. For example, don’t promote your recyclable plastic containers when you know they are not being recycled by the local waste management company. Greenwashing is sales poison to these consumers.

And getting real means recognizing that your sales future is the GenZ customer. To win them, your business must be dedicated to achieving net zero emissions and zero plastic waste. Achieving one or the other is huge. Achieving both at competitive prices puts your company on the changeling’s values highway to explosive revenue growth!

The second step is authenticity messaging. If your company is making incremental values steps, then your values messaging is very much like a product price promotion. They generate buzz. They can grow sales. But they are mountain top experiences that do not sustain customer trust and sales. Authentic messaging that wins cash register activists are ambitious, emotional declarations showing how these consumers can realize their aspirations for people and planet. Think Patagonia.

For most businesses, you are approaching cash register activists with mountain top messaging. But the path to explosive sales growth is through an urgent realization that as climate change enhanced extreme weather increasingly damages or destroys people, properties, supply chains, food supplies, energy reliability and business results it will turn today’s price/convenience shoppers into tomorrow’s cash register activists. Make sure your business is ready for them.

Related content:

Questions Small Business Owners Should Be Asking Themselves Now

Responsibility and the Business of Change

Do You Know Your Adaptability Quotient?


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