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Why we boycott: consumer motivations for boycott participation and marketer responses



Publication Year



While boycotts are increasingly relevant for management decision-making, there has been little research of an individual’s motivation to boycott. Drawing upon the helping behavior and boycott literatures, we take a cost-benefit approach to the decision to boycott and present a conceptualization of motivations for boycott participation. Our framework was tested during an actual boycott of a multinational firm that was prompted by factory closings. Consumers who viewed the closures as egregious were more likely to boycott the firm, though only a minority did so. Four factors were found to predict boycott participation: the desire to make a difference, the scope for self-enhancement, counterarguments that inhibit boycotting, and the cost to the boycotter of constrained consumption. Further, the desire to make a difference and constrained consumption were significant moderators of the relationship between the perceived egregiousness of the firm’s actions and boycott participation. The role of perceptions of others’ participation was also explored. Implications for marketers, NGOs, policymakers and researchers are discussed.

Publication Research Centre

Centre for Marketing

Available on ECCH


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