What Is Boycott, How to Start?

Are you tired of hearing about a company behaving not appropriately? Are you not satisfied with a company for the way it conducts its business? Why not boycott it and maybe it will serve as an encouragement for others to do the same?

Below is given a quick guide to setting up your own consumer boycott.

What is a boycott?

Boycotts are considered to be a tool that can hold the company’s accountable for the actions against consumers, workers, minorities, communities,  animals, or the environment. It is seen as a marketplace democracy in action, where consumers vote with their money for social and economic change.

Boycotts directly threaten sales in order to make company boss’ take them more seriously which is more effective than letter-writing campaigns or lobbying.

Any concerned group or individual has a right to call a boycott. For many years, groups have been more successful in calling and executing boycotts compared to the individuals, as there is strength in numbers.

Before you begin…

Set some 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.

In order to achieve it you should have clear demands.  Stop selling alcohol to schoolchildren! It is the easiest way to make people involved and a chance to give the company an action it can take. But first of all, you should make sure the demands are realistic.

A perfect time frame based on resources and the size of the task you want to do will be very helpful. However, you should never forget that boycotts can take years before achieving the targetted result. Maybe you should start from a small point. For example, aim for a boycott in a small neighborhood or amongst a small group of people.

You have a few options about how to do this boycott. It may be whether pressure to the company by impacting product sales (economic and consumer-oriented) or attacking the company’s image (reputational and media-oriented)?

Your knowledge is your weapon

You should have all the facts about the company whether it is offensive policy or action.

Just searching for the company on the internet will be enough

Here the partners will be useful for you. You may get help from other activists and campaign groups, they may know anything interesting and relevant.

Ex-employees may be the “key”

Find the company’s annual reports in order to obtain important information such as their environmental report or workers’ rights policy, facts about the president and/or CEO’s name(s), addresses, and phone numbers.

Next step…

Write to the company to listen to you, ask to meet with them.

Let them know that if the policy or action you are against is not changed, you may initiate a consumer boycott. It is usual that some organizers attempt to negotiate with the company first and then later use a boycott strategy, only if negotiations do not bring any desired results.

Spread it

Find and use boycott media, which may be local or alternative press.

Talk to other community groups, activists, media, and organizers in order to spread your boycott’s message and let the public know.

Use press releases and informational materials as part of a comprehensive media strategy.

Choose a #tag and set up social media pages to get the message out to the world.

Setting up an online petition in order to provide a focus on the campaign and reach more people.

15 ways to get your message across:

  • Clear, simple, concise message.
  • Distribution of your leaflets that is about the boycott in front of their stores.
  • Get consumers to sign petitions or cards pledging to support the boycott. Send these to the company.
  • Production of educational films, materials, or demonstration kits to educate consumers about the issue.
  • Advertisement in Mass media.
  • Celebrity endorsement.
  • Buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and etc.
  • Web Site with information on the boycott.
  • E-mail alerts and updates.
  • Press releases notifying the media of rallies, press conferences, demonstrations, or any other events supporting the boycott.
  • Demonstrations in front of the company’s headquarters.
  • Speak at community functions.
  • Letters to local and national newspapers and magazines.
  • Articles for other organizations’ newsletters.

If you have learned enough about boycotts, then take a step and try!

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