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Who actually boycotts brands? More liberals and college grads, it turns out

Who actually boycotts brands? More liberals and college grads, it turns out
[Photo: lucia/Unsplash]

Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!

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You hear that a lot on social media these days, but do consumers actually make purchasing decisions based on the political stance of a particular brand? Many do, it turns out, but boycotts are not an even phenomenon across the political spectrum, according to new research from Morning Consult and Advertising Week.

The firm found that liberal and well-educated Americans are far more likely to say they have stopped buying a product or service based on a company’s political stance compared to conservatives or consumers with less formal education. Based on Morning Consult’s nationally representative survey of 4,200 adults, about 50% of consumers with postgraduate degrees indicate they have boycotted a brand. That number falls to 40% for consumers with bachelor’s degrees and about 22% for consumers without a college degree.

Political affiliation also plays a role, with about 43% of liberal consumers saying they’ve boycotted a brand compared to about 32% of conservatives. Moderates were the least likely to boycott, with only about 22% saying they’ve done so. Differences based on age and race were not as pronounced.

[Courtesy of Morning Consult]
At a time when boycott hashtags seem to trend every other day on Twitter (CVS, Olive Garden, and ABC are just a few recent casualties), opinions differ about whether boycotts are effective.

But Morning Consult’s research could explain why some brands seem more susceptible than others to the whims of consumers who vow to vote with their dollars. As our Ruth Reader reported this week, SoulCycle took a significant hit in August after Stephen Ross, the chairman of its parent company, held a fundraiser for President Trump. Purchases were down 12.8% that month compared to the month before, data revealed. The brand’s urban, largely progressive members seemed to feel betrayed by the ostensive support of Trump, despite SoulCycle distancing itself from Ross.

Morning Consult and Advertising Week released the research as part of a “2020 Survival Guide for Brands” and will present it next week in New York as part of this year’s Advertising Week event.

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