Maggie's Salsa is one of the women-owned businesses with products sold at Walmart, and it plans to adopt the new logo.
Retail labels are full of signals designed to appeal to shoppers’ preferences and values: Made in America, gluten-free, fair-trade or kosher. Soon, shoppers will be able to look for a new signal: A small, circular symbol indicating that the company behind the product is owned by women.
The new logo is the work of two nonprofits and Walmart, which will sell products from lingerie to salsa bearing the stamp starting in September. The retail giant pledged in 2011 to source $20 billion of goods from U.S. women-owned businesses by 2016.
“People are looking for reasons to feel good about the company they’re buying from,” says Pamela Prince-Eason, chief executive of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Her group, along with WEConnect International, certifies businesses seeking contracts earmarked for women-owned businesses. Any business that gets the stamp of approval from either organization can use the logo, Prince-Eason says.
Lingerie brand Smart & Sexy and West Virginia-based Maggie’s Salsa are among the women-owned businesses that plan to adopt the new logo. Prince-Eason believes many more will follow. “I think there’s a very strong business case for having the logo on a product,” she says, citing research from Walmart that found 90% of female shoppers will seek out goods marketed by women-owned businesses.
She’s probably right. Expressing values through buying decisions has become a regular practice for a certain breed of shopper (albeit one more likely to be found at Whole Foods than Walmart). Customers look for logos proclaiming a product certified kosher, or free from genetically modified organisms. Campaigns that encourage local-shopping have also proven successful: American Express says the Small Business Saturday promotion it sponsors drove billions of dollars to small business owners last year.
Is there a place for products from women-owned businesses in the catalog of products for values-driven shoppers? Unlike kosher or gluten-free, the designation doesn’t tell you anything about the inherent qualities of the merchandise. Backing women-owned businesses is more akin to asking consumers to buy fair-trade goods or items made in the U.S. — a more abstract expression of values. Prince-Eason hopes that the logo, which resembles a ring of women with their arms around each other, can inspire female consumers to act on a sense of solidarity.
Keep an eye on the salsa shelf to see if it works.