Half of Americans have boycotted a brand

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
July 15, 2020, 12:53 PM UTC

In the age of consumer activism, every other American has used their wallet as a means of fighting back against a business. 

According to new YouGov survey data, half (50%) of Americans say they have boycotted a business at some point in their life. That figure is even higher among older Americans 45 to 54 years old (56%) and 55 and over (57%), perhaps because they’ve lived through more corporate scandals. Those with a household income $80,000 and over are especially likely to have boycotted a business in protest (67%).  

Most recently, Goya, the Hispanic-owned food company faced boycott calls from Latinos after its CEO Robert Unanue said President Donald Trump was a blessing. The boycott was spurred by some high-profile figures, including model and personality Chrissy Teigen, Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Goya is only one on a list of brands whose politics have sparked outrage. 

Starbucks faced boycott calls in June after it prohibited its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter shirts or pins. In August 2019, exercise brand SoulCycle drew ire after the owner, Stephan Ross, hosted a fundraising event for President Trump, which cost the brand customers at the time. 

These waves of outrage flood social media quickly, making them seem more common and more effective. 

YouGov also asked Americans about effectiveness of boycotts to change a company’s politics or actions and roughly two-thirds say they’re very (21%) or somewhat (42%) effective. On the other side, about a quarter of Americans say boycotts are not very (18%) or not at all (8%) effective.  

Democrats are especially likely to believe such actions are very (30%) or somewhat (49%) effective compared to Republicans, of who half believe they’re very (16%) or somewhat (34%) effective. 

Separate ongoing profiling data compiled by YouGov shows a plurality (14%) of Americans believe people involved in public actions – including protests, boycotts and petitions – is the most influential group in ensuring big companies act ethically. Americans believe they’re more effective than governments (13%), media outlets (10%) and social media (9%). 

Methodology: Total sample size as of publishing was 19,857 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between July 10 and 13, 2020 The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

Image: Getty