Are you fed up of hearing about a company behaving badly? Are you angry with a company for the way it conducts its business? Why not boycott it and encourage others to do the same?
Here's a quick guide to setting up your own consumer boycott.
What is a boycott?
Boycotts are a tool for holding companies accountable for actions against workers, consumers, communities, minorities, animals or the environment. It is marketplace democracy in action – consumers voting with their money for social and economic change.
Boycotts directly threaten sales, so company bosses often take them more seriously than letter writing campaigns or lobbying.
Any concerned group or individual can call a boycott. Groups have been more successful in calling and executing boycotts than individuals because there is strength in numbers.
Read more about what boycotts are and if they are always appropriate in our separate article.
Before you start...
Set some objectives and goals
“A successful campaign, no matter how we define it, has to begin with clear, realistic, measurable goals,” Barbara Beck of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Have clear demands e.g. Stop selling tobacco to kids! This makes it easier to get people involved and gives the company an action it can take. Make sure demands are realistic.
Set yourself a time frame based on resources and the size of the task. But remember boycotts can take years before achieving the desired result. Perhaps start small, aim for a boycott in a small area or amongst a small group of people.
Decide whether you want to pressure the company by impacting product sales (economic and consumer-oriented) or by attacking the company's image (reputational and media-oriented)?
Arm yourself with knowledge
Get all the facts about the company and the offensive policy or action.
Search the Internet for information about the company.
Ask other activists and campaign groups if they know anything interesting and relevant, maybe they’ll back your call.
Ask ex-employees to “spill the beans”.
Use the company's annual reports (often posted on the Internet) to obtain important company information such as their environmental report or workers' rights policy, the president and/or CEO's name(s), and addresses and phone numbers.
Write to the company to voice your grievance. And ask to meet with them.
Indicate that if the policy or action is not changed, you intend to initiate a consumer boycott. Some organisers attempt to negotiate with the company first and use a boycott strategy only if negotiations fail to bring about the desired changes.
Occasionally the threat of a boycott can make the company yield to your demands.