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Research Details

Spilling the Beans on Political Consumerism: Do Social Media Boycotts and Buycotts Translate to Real Sales Impact?

Abstract

Brands increasingly face pressure from consumers to take a stance on political issues, but there is limited empirical evidence about the effect of political consumerism on sales. In this paper, we quantify the consequences of a brand taking a political stance. In July 2020, the CEO of Goya, a large Latin food brand, publicly praised President Trump, triggering a boycott movement and a counter buycott” movement supporting the brand. Using consumer-level purchase data, we measure the net effect of the boycott/buycott movements on brand sales. Boycott-related social media posts and media coverage dominated buycott ones, but the sales impact was the opposite: the buycott dominated the boycott, temporarily leading to a 22% increase in Goya sales. However, this sales boost fully dissipated within three weeks. We then explore heterogeneity in the sales response with the goal of understanding which households are most likely to engage in political consumerism. We find evidence of large sales increases (56.4%) in heavily Republican counties but do not find a strong countervailing boycott effect in heavily Democratic counties. Finally, we show that Latino consumers, who make up Goya's core customer base and who tend to skew Democratic, did not significantly reduce their purchases.

Type

Working Paper

Author(s)

Anna Tuchman, Jura Liaukonyte, Xinrong Zhu

Date Published

2022

Citations

Tuchman, Anna, Jura Liaukonyte, and Xinrong Zhu. 2022. Spilling the Beans on Political Consumerism: Do Social Media Boycotts and Buycotts Translate to Real Sales Impact?.

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