Bil Browning

Do Boycotts Work? [Open Thread]

Filed By Bil Browning | May 19, 2012 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: activist strategy, bar code, boycott, open thread, pissing in the wind

Every time a corporation does something offensive to some group or another, there's automatic calls for a boycott. Don't buy their products! Don't shop at those stores! How dare you eat there?!?

bigstock-Raising-Fist-With-Barcode-7552580.jpgWhether it's rightwing Christians or the gays, we both love our boycotts. The question for today is, do they work?

If you're a regular reader, you'll know I'm not a fan of this tactic. For a boycott to be effective, you need real buy in on a national level. The company has to see the error of its ways and to achieve that you have to make an actual dent in their bottom line. It has to be more profitable - either monetarily or to their public image - to get customers to shut up and plunk down their cash again. Then you have to get the company to make a statement that at least halfway agrees with your position and apologizes. That's a hard row to hoe.

When was the last time you heard of a boycott that worked? Has Chik-Fil-A gone under as they stand by their religious right views? How about the Focus on the Family boycott of Disney World for Gay Days? Maybe the One Million Moms "boycott" of JC Penney? None of those have worked - and will never work.

I'd posit that it's time to think outside of the box. I'm not sure what the next strategy of demanding corporate change is, but simply announcing that you won't buy some product or another isn't going to be enough. With the world economy so focused on consumption now and the companies that produce stuff so large, unless your target is a small business, it seems unlikely that you'll achieve the goal.

So what do you think? Do boycotts still work? What was the last successful boycott you've seen or participated in?

(Clenched fist clipart via Bigstock)


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