Inside the mindset of an American boycotter

Inside the mindset of an American boycotter
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Half of Americans boycott a brand because of its unfavorable support for a politician or political party

The age of social media awareness leaves little cover for brands to hide when they suffer mistakes, breaches, or scandals. YouGov's Inside the Mindset of a US Brand Boycotter report explores how brands who act fast and effectively to understand, acknowledge, and assuage consumers may recover from a decline in brand health and purchase consideration. The remedy consists of two parts: monitor the public perception of the problem and learn as much as possible about current and former customers to present the right messaging and get in front of their concerns.

YouGov BrandIndex tackles the first part of the solution by tracking the health of a brand at the onset of the problem. Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy Note 7s and subsequent recall due to exploding phones led to an increase in overall brand attention but drew eyes of the wrong kind. Negative buzz and a decrease in Purchase Consideration can follow this bad publicity though it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a brand. Boycotters, a subset of former customers, offer another perspective from which to examine the problem and redeem a reputation. Delving into the behavior of the people who boycott a brand helps in not only gaining them back but also retaining current customers.

Boycotters have strong opinions and YouGov Profiles pinpoints just what those turnoffs are for customers. Over half of respondents who boycott a brand say that its support for an opposing politician or party was a deal breaker. Other strong motivators to boycott include products that negatively affect consumer health (44%), racism in company culture (44%), and harm to the environment (42%).

It goes without saying that a brand should always be concerned about its consumer perception. When a brand faces public crisis, the manner and speed at which they address it will directly impact purchase consideration and brand health. It is near impossible for a brand to dodge or ignore an issue with the public’s exposure to constant media coverage and social media narrative. The sooner a brand can course-correct, the quicker they can recover. Whether a brand’s stance on an issue is purposeful or if a public mishap has occurred, consumers are provided with the chance to vote with their wallets.


Forming a granular image of a boycotter and how that person acts can help develop the right messaging and target channels to address them. YouGov Profiles identifies the largest group of people who stop using brands because of recalls – they tend to be men who work full time and live with their spouse or partner. Those who abandon a brand after a scandal tend to be more social and enjoy discussing current events with family, friends, or coworkers. They also always check product reviews and are prone to use social media to disseminate and discuss news.

Knowing this, brands can rectify a situation by knowing where to go first – in this situation, it’s reaching former customers via Twitter and Facebook or directly responding to their complaints on a product review page.

Download Inside the Mindset of a US Brand Boycotter here

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Image: Getty