Americans Boycotting Brands Now More Than Ever, But Is It Productive?

More than one-quarter of Americans are currently boycotting a product or company they once patronized, says a recent survey from LendingTree—but some experts say it might not be helpful.

Boycotts have been more prevalent since the 2020 protests in response to the murder of George Floyd. Consumers on both sides of the political aisle refused to buy from companies that did not align with their beliefs. Now, boycotts are down from 2020, but some consumers are still boycotting various companies for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are still political or involve a company's stance on social issues. Consumers also boycott companies because of their environmental impacts, associations, and endorsements with certain celebrities.

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Of the 2,100 consumers surveyed in LendingTree's April study, six-figure earners are the most likely to boycott a product or company (37%). Approximately 32% of boycotters are Gen Z, and 28% are Millennials. As for political party affiliations, 31% identify as Democrat, and 24% identify as Republican. Political donations are the most significant reason for boycotts (39%). Other reasons include a company's treatment of employees (34%) and policy positions (30%). Six-figure earners are, in fact, 77% more likely to spend at a business that shares their political beliefs.

Experts from Reuters noted that the real challenge for consumers is determining when a boycott is necessary. One may disagree with a company's policies or political affiliations, but it's difficult to stay educated on every company's affiliations. It's also challenging to boycott conglomerates or multinationals, as they own multiple brands. Meanwhile, companies may feel like they're being forced to publicly state opinions just to obtain consumer approval from specific segments of the population. And while transparency might be good in some ways, it can also create misunderstandings and fuel conflict. Reuters advises consumers to pick their battles—find what matters to you, and don't just boycott stores on a whim.