Promising to be the first corporate accountability app, recently launched BizVizz is designed "to make corporate behavior transparent." A snap of a picture of a brand's logo on a store shelf leads to a graphic screen that reveals corporate details such as how much tax a company pays, how much it receives in government subsidies and to whom it provides political donations.
The app comes from 371 Productions, whose president, Brad Lichtenstein, is a documentary filmmaker in the Michael Moore vein. His 2012 Sundance film, We're Not Broke, exposed how U.S.-based multinational companies use offshore profits to avoid paying tax. His latest documentary, As Goes Janesville, details how a Wisconsin town survived losing a General Motors plant and how local civic leaders gave away tax dollars to a prospective company without even holding a public hearing.
"The app was born out a desire to counter the spin and effort from corporations to distract you from the fact that they have an army of lobbyists winning them tax breaks and these subsidies," Mr. Lichtenstein told Fast Company's blog Co.Exist.
The app consolidates information already collected by the Sunlight Foundation (campaign contributions), Good Jobs First (subsidies), and Citizens for Tax Justice. BizVizz currently features 300 companies and over 900 brands with plans to expand.
"This is public information," Mr. Lichtenstein said in a statement. "We're just making it visible."
The app comes as a new Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study found 56 percent of Americans agree that, now more than ever, they're pro-actively trying to learn more about the companies they hear about or choose to do business with. Harris Interactive defined these consumers as "seekers" and contrasted them with "bystanders" who are not as active in seeking out information.
Among "seekers," 61 percent have decided not to do business with a company because of something they learned about how it conducts itself. Forty-seven percent actively tried to influence friends' and family's perceptions about a company because of something they learned about its business practices. Forty percent shared information about a company through social media or e-mail.
How much more or less important is corporate responsibility becoming to consumer purchasing decisions?