About a month ago at 7:30 a.m., I was standing in line at Starbucks — you all know the drill — when the customer four spots ahead of me struck up a conversation with the counter staff about the difference between Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certification. Faced with the prospect of eschewing my morning latte so I could make an 8 a.m. meeting, I did what any rational professional would have done and texted the office that we’d need to start the meeting 15 minutes late.

Now, this wasn’t because of my well-documented caffeine addiction. This was billable work. Playing out right in front of me was an unadulterated case study on how the products and services we all buy are becoming overshadowed by the stuff used to make them.

A good chunk of PR industry revenue falls into a category we call — in a somewhat antiquated manner — business-to-consumer, or B2C. The reality of the supply chain, from raw material to Jane Doe, is that B2C is actually made up of a series of business-to-business, or B2B, relationships. Even at the near-end of the chain, the brands many of us represent sell their wares not directly to consumers, but to big-box grocers and retailers that place a series of B2B requirements on suppliers.

And, like any meme with a kitten in it, those B2B requirements are creeping onto consumers’ radar.

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