Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
I like this idea, only I think it should be run by the government.

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You Eat It, You Own It

Cash back is so 2004. Throw me some dividends
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It seems that cashback and miles are becoming ever more popular as brand loyalty devices.

In the ultimate "Ownership Society", a wider and wider number of consumers could gain ownership over "the means of production" by accumulating fractional share ownership for loyal brand purchases.

Investors already commonly make stock purchase decisions based on products they like or services they use, so this would not be atypical behavior -- simply a way to get stocks to a much larger audience with little or no risk.

There are also existing mechanisms to purchase shares of many companies without a broker, often at a discount. Similar mechanisms could be used here.

theircompetitor, Feb 10 2005

Britannia Building Society http://www.britannia.co.uk/
Buy our stuff, get a share of the profits. [DrBob, Feb 10 2005]

REI (scroll down to Business Structure) http://www.rei.com/aboutrei/business.html
REI does something like this. They are effectively customer-owned. [Worldgineer, Feb 10 2005]

[link]






       Let me see if I have this correctly.   

       Put simply, you want to award a fraction of a share of stock to every consumer who purchases a product. ie, 'wow mom, only 18 more boxes until I own a whole share of GeneralMills!'   

       If that is correct, how does the infrastructure work? Is everything run off of debit/credit transaction recipts? What about cash, if/how will the fractional shares be awarded. Many other questions...   

       Very interesting Idea though.. a couple years and I'd have controling interest with the coca cola company.
photojunkie, Feb 10 2005
  

       [photojunkie], first let me congratulate you on being one of the few HBers whose profile made me laugh in under one second. :)   

       You're right of course in that many issues exist. Currently, many blue chip companies have provisions for selling shares directly, in other words, grandma can call Dupont and get shares directly.   

       So that aspect of it already exists and is legal.   

       Further, many companies have large scale rebate programs, ones that are handled by either intermediaries or even directly by the companies. In a similar way, perhaps you'd need to send 100 bottle caps in.   

       Or maybe if the supermarket checkout counter -- which already uses your debit card -- is smart enough, it sends your info to the company, so they know you buy their products -- that of course is an idea in itself.
theircompetitor, Feb 10 2005
  

       Aw, all that came in my Crackerjacks box is a temporary tattoo and a Krispy Kreme stock certificate.
Worldgineer, Feb 10 2005
  

       This is, in essence, the same philosophy as used by Mutual societies in the UK. They don't issure shares or have shareholders. Instead, when you buy their products (in this case various financial services) you become a member of the society and the 'profits' made by the company are ploughed back into the business to keep their prices low.

It's interesting that you should use that tag line, tc, as the Britannia Building Society (linky) is using almost the same hook (using pictures rather than words) on it's web site at the moment. Brittania also run a 'reward' scheme by which they send you a nice cheque at the end of the year for using their services. The sum paid over is determined on a fixed scale according to how much business you've put their way.

Of course, it's a bit easier to implement where the customers are making regular payments to the company but I see no reason why you shouldn't pay over a minimal subscription (to cover admin costs) to, say, your favourite chocolate company in exchange for a membership card so that, whenever you buy their product you present your card for swiping. The company can then keep track of how much business you are putting their way and reward you appropriately.

I'll have another of those nice pastries please waiter.
DrBob, Feb 10 2005
  

       A combination of the two? what about getting credit/debit cards together with companies... we already have reward cards, airline miles or cash, whatever... if those rewards were funded by the companies that were on the cards network of vendors... ie, you use your visa card at a kmart, kmart makes it's money and awards the card a slice of it's profit margin. The card then passes it on to their credit holders (after taking their slice) and the card holders would receive a residual. Obviously the more money made by the credit card company, the more money they could give back, and the more they give back to the customer, the more customers they have, thus furthering their profit margin. When everything gets said and done, the customers would be made broke by their overspending, be forced to subside on crackers and soon riots would ensue...
photojunkie, Feb 10 2005
  

       I think I agree with [photojunkie]'s sentiment ... it's hard to think over the sound of my shredder, though these useless reward cards _have_ to go.   

       Major automaker: "Please don't think of our recall as an admission of design failure, think of it as a stock repurchase -- sort of a novel way to increase shareholder value.
reensure, Feb 10 2005
  

       I work for an advertising agency in South Africa. We had a very similar idea for our banking client Absa (the biggest bank in South Africa). We presented it to them about 6 months ago. The mechanics wouldn't be that hard to work out - if you think about it, the bank already records all your credit card/home loan transactions etc. We had a flow plan which worked in a similar way to a Miles rewards programme, you just accumulate shares. Unfortunately Absa finally decided against it - I think the idea is just a bit radical for their conservative minds. But awesome idea - in future I'm sure companies will start doing this.
Flux, Feb 11 2005
  

       congrats [TC], I think you've hit onto something rather brilliant.
photojunkie, Feb 11 2005
  

       oh, I'm used to it :)
theircompetitor, Feb 11 2005
  

       Well then, thanks for sharing it with us this time. :P
Detly, Feb 11 2005
  

       Autoboner logged on again
theircompetitor, Feb 14 2005
  
      
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