Wednesday 31 January, 2018

Consumers make a series of decisions before they decide what to purchase, and from whom. Traditional market forces have been price, demand and geography, but a new report from Weber Shandwick and KRC Research suggests there is a change in consumer activism. 

The research, entitled Battle of the Wallets: The Changing Landscape of Consumer Activism, looks at the motivations behind those who boycott particular brands, and those who show active support for others – the “BUYcotters”. 

The research finds that the latter movement is growing. Eight in 10 consumer activists in the US and UK (83 percent) agree that it is more important than ever to support companies that “do the right thing” by buying from them. This is a significantly larger group than those who say it is more important than ever to participate in boycotts of companies (59 percent).

The effects of both groups have been seen recently in Scotland. Since the independence referendum, packaging of supermarket produce has been a subject of debate for those supportive of and antagonistic towards a particular brand’s stance.

The decision of some business leaders to support the “No” campaign in the referendum provoked a strong reaction from pro-independence groups, while there was an increase in support from overtly Scottish/English produce on both sides of the border

On average, the so-called “BUYcotters” have taken more supportive purchase actions in the past two years (5.7) than boycotters have taken in opposition (4.5).

The former group are also far more likely to maintain their position, with 37 percent saying they expect to take more supportive actions in the next two years, versus just 28 percent of those boycotters who expect to take negative actions.

Understanding this motivation is key. Supporting a company or brand’s reputation is the primary concern for those taking a positive stance (48 percent), while changing the way a company or brand does business (36 percent) and harming the reputation of their target (35 percent) is the main motivation for boycotters. In both cases, the impact on sales is less of a consideration than the impact on reputation. 

Battle of the Wallets looks at six guidelines to understand the evolving trend of consumer activism. 

Download Battle of the Wallets here and see the infographic below.