Due to the recent Israel-Palestine conflict, there has been a call to boycott companies such as Starbucks, McDonalds, Disney and Puma. But people online are claiming they have ‘boycott fatigue,’ meaning that after three weeks of boycotting, people have begun purchasing from these companies again due to what seems like a lack of instant gratification.
To that, I say…. What the f— is boycott fatigue? Am I meant to understand that people are growing tired of boycotting corporations that directly fund inhumane causes? What happened to rage against the machine? Taking down the man? Where did our political backbones go as a society?!
Just so everyone is on the same page, a boycott is a withdrawal from commercial or social relations (a country, organization or person) as a punishment or protest. The main goal of a boycott is to not buy products from a specific company or country. This causes the company to financially suffer and eventually give into the demands of the people boycotting for the sake of returning to their normal profit.
Historically, boycotting has been effective. We can see this during the Civil Rights Movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, where Black people refused to pay for transportation as a result of discrimination on the Montgomery Bus Transport System. This boycott was so well put together that Black neighborhoods began to organize carpool schedules to ensure that the boycott could make a long-lasting impact.
There have also been studies that prove boycotts work! In a study by Monroe Friedman in 1985, 16 of the 21 boycotts studied were “successful in inflicting substantial financial loss on the target firms.” If that isn’t recent enough, we can also take a look at a boycott from 2022 where General Mills sold its stake in its joint venture in Israel as a result of a boycott initiated by The American Friends Service Committee. The selling of its stake was a huge win for the boycott.
Did we forget the very recent Bud Light boycott? Conservatives called for a boycott against the beer company for teaming up with Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, in ad campaigns. This boycott caused Bud Light to “ lose over 25% of its sales and fall from its position as the top-selling beer in the world.” The CEO is now attempting to figure out a solution that appeases their consumers to better increase their revenue while trying to balance their appeal to conservatives and their newfound queer audiences.
We’ve lost our ability to come together for a cause. It shouldn’t be difficult to stop buying from companies for the sake of our beliefs. Corporate greed does not care about us on an individual level, but sadly we continue to fuel it for convenience. I think this might have something to do with how deeply rooted consumerism is within our society. It’s quick and easy to place an order for a drink or to watch your favorite childhood movie on streaming services. I just feel like our beliefs have to go beyond a simple Instagram infographic. We should be able to refrain from buying products from companies that don’t support what we believe in.
This doesn’t mean we should try to hurt workers when boycotting. A recent video on TikTok showed people mass ordering at Starbucks drive-thru windows and driving off before paying for their drinks. While this does cost the company money, they’re also hurting the minimum wage employees who are already dealing with 325 unfair labor practices. The workers are already attempting to unionize, and if you want to help in wasting the company’s money… just don’t buy from the company.
Either boycott these companies, or don’t, it’s not really up to me. I just think boycott fatigue as a concept is incomprehensible. Saying you grew fatigued with this boycott is exactly what these large companies want from you. They’ll keep lowering prices and they’ll wait for you to come back after you’ve gotten tired of participating. It’s okay to say “we got lost in corporate comfort” but I think in terms of boycotting, you’re either 100% there or you’re doing exactly what these rich executives want… funding their rich lifestyles and their beliefs.