Tax avoidance and evasion (48%) is why most UK consumers will shun a brand, but poor treatment of staff (40%) and “cover ups” (40%) are not far behind. Boycotts on the back of faulty products or recalls are less likely it seems (35%).
More than one in five Brits (21%) have stopped using a brand following a scandal and often the impact is long-lasting, according to new research published by YouGov.
Food businesses have been the subject of a number of scandals in recent years. Starbucks, for example, has become the poster child of corporate tax avoidance. Other firms were caught up in the horsemeat scandal, whilst there have also been exposes relating to farm workers in the tea and palm oil supply chains.
“While it is not as straightforward as saying that every time a brand is seen to misbehave it will lose customers, there is a distinct proportion of consumers who will vote with their wallets,” YouGov noted in its report, “Inside the mindset of a brand boycotter”.
Around two thirds (67%) of the respondents that have stopped using a brand still don’t use it. And although some come back eventually, only around one in four (26%) use the brand as much as they did before. Just 1% use it more.
Consumers have mixed reasons for coming back to a boycotted brand. For almost three in 10 (28%) they returned because the company changed the practices that had initiated the boycott. Just under a quarter (24%) said they returned because the brand’s product or service improved.
However, there are also occasions when a brand does not necessarily need to change its practices or alter its approach. Nearly three in ten (29%) returning boycotters started using the brand again because it had become too inconvenient not to, whilst 18% felt it was necessary to use the company in their work or family life.
“A large majority say they will stick to brands that they like and so the relationship a company has with its customers is key for surviving any bumps in the road,” YouGov added.