Have you done any “cash mobbing” lately? It sounds criminal, but it’s precisely the opposite.

A cash mob is an event where people support a local retailer by gathering en masse to purchase the store’s products.

—cash mob n.

—cash mobber n.

—cash mobbing pp.

Spotted in the Boston Globe and Pheonix Business Journal this month (and earlier in the Wall Street Journal) by the ever wondrous Word Spycash mobs allow customers to act collectively en masse to help out their favorite local businesses with one-day boosts in revenue to help keep them afloat in this slow economy.

It’s a lovely social idea; the polar opposite of the the popular Chinese social commerce “Tuangou” trend where customers flash mob a retailer and demand a big discount in return for a bulk purchase.

The concept and term, coined by Oracle engineer Chris Smith from NY, was born out of a realisation that happy customers do not need Groupon-style discounts to support good, solid, local businesses.  Create happy customers, they will be willing to help you out in times of need. Using social media to vote on which local businesses to support and get the word out, Chris has organised cash mobs for a wine store, beer store, a restaurant, a bookstore and a coffee shop.

As you might expect, Amex – the poster child pioneer of social commerce – has jumped on the cash mobbing trend with “Small Business Saturday” cash mobs in which cardholders are given a $25 credit if they use the card at small retailers on a specific Saturday. Kudos Amex.

We think “cash mobbing” is a great acid test for brands and retailers.  Would your brand users and customers love and value you enough to support you with a cash mob?

And is “cash mobbing” a fleeting fad, or is it a people-powered move to humanise – and socialise – commerce?  And if so – is there a business opportunity here – to emulate and build on Amex’s initiative.

Retail for good. Now there’s a powerful proposition.