This article will discuss the concept of boycotting as a general concept, from a business perspective, and how it can be used to serve a specific objective or a cause, and how boycotting can be effective using social media.
This is written during the times of harsh and hard time for our beloved neighbor country Palestine during the time of war and invasion of the Israeli forces.
The whole world is calling out for boycotting specific products and brands that aim to put into big brands and economies that are serving the invasion and inhuman crisis, it is the Boycott , Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, all humans around the world are aiming to pressure the economic status of Israeli and multinational companies as a response to the Israeli abuse to Palestinian Human rights. (Suleymanova, 2021)
What is Boycotting as a concept, it is a peaceful, deliberate, and intended abstaining action from purchasing, utilizing, using, or dealing with an individual, company, or even a country as an articulation and expression of objection and protest, usually done as an act against any violations and invasion for moral, social, political, or environmental reasons. (Jill G. Klein, 2004)
1.2 Boycott as a concept
Boycotting is an action taken by an individual it is also known as “the tool for social change”, organizations, countries, towards another entity of the same kind to restrict the economic development of that entity. This action is done in the case of any kind of invasion that is taken seriously and of high priority to a specific entity, such as matters relevant to moral, social, political, religious, or environmental. (Radzik, 2017)
Many companies and institutions were demolished and influenced highly from an economic aspect through the boycotting, examples shown through history such as Nestle Corporation in the 1970’s as it was responsible for the death of many children in underdeveloped nations for selling infant formulas instead of supporting the community to breast feed, the main cause was because the water was not clean most of the time. (Solomon, 1981)
1.2.2 History of boycotting
The boycott concept appeared in the late nineteenth century when a ferocious group of Irish tenants were very furious about the ruthless rent collection procedures by an English Land agent, the movement was called “Captain Charles Boycott”. The Irish tenants where able to boycott and achieve the economic and social objectives by refusing to work in the lands. (Newsinger, Vol.28 (2003))
Nestle’s Corporation and scandal for being responsible for the death of many children in underdeveloped countries due to their contaminate water, is another great example in history to show the power of boycotting, it was a worldwide stand and not a small economy, the boycott started in 1974 and only after 10 years, Nestle approved to change their formula to the mothers in the underdeveloped world. (Solomon, 1981)
Boycotting requires time and persistence, the community and people in support achieved victory, its is not simply buying from Starbuck fir a few days, and it does not only stand on one person.
The reason Starbucks is mentioned, as we see it socially trending to be one of the top must boycott brands as conceptualized to be the product of Israel, and the Israeli economy feeds into the Israeli military which directly induces war and purchase of weapons to kill Palestinians.
Is Starbucks Israeli? It Is our responsibility to search and know, and not simply throw names out there. As mentioned in the points below for organizing a boycott, it is not an activity of harm, it is an activity of a stand and change in the required outcome,
Howard Schultz the Starbucks chairman owns almost 4% of the company, he calls himself “Active Zionist” a Zionist is someone who supports the development of the nation of Israel on behalf of taking the lands and souls of whoever is on the land which Zionist calls theirs.
Noting that Starbucks PR team stated in July 21st, 2006 that “Neither Chairman Howard Schultz nor Starbucks fund or support the Israeli Army. Starbucks is a non-political organization and does not support individual political causes.”. (Ferguson, 2006)
There will always be questions on brands and their sources, but it is important to take into consideration the sources, the income, and the style of the brand expansion from one country to another.
1.2.3 How to boycott?
Simply, stop buying.
A boycott has two main objectives, the first objective it should create negative word of mouth and publicity towards an organization, or a brand or whatever entity this cause is targeting. The second objective the outcome of this bad word of mouth and negative publicity is the threat it creates on the organization and the bottom-line customers and consumers, hence, its profit and income will be limited and affected directly. (Ethical Consumer Orgaisation , 2021)
Boycotting action is an extension of what is called formal democracy.
Formal democracy is a governmental structure in which people have the voice and authority to be part in making the choices of regulating laws, in direct democracy, individuals are directly involved to decide on legislation such as the United States of America, Nigeria, India, it is when individuals are able to vote directly rather than having anyone to represent them. Switzerland is the closest example to this type of democracy, as the government of Switzerland encourage initiatives, optional referendums and mandatory referendums to oppose amendments and demand bills. The nation also votes on all issues through popular vote. (Frymer, 2016)
There are three levels of boycotting, Primary Boycotting this is the direct action and decision made by an individual not to buy or consumer any goods or services provided by a specific company, organization, and country, with policies and values that are against that individuals values and policies, example, I do not want to purchase from X, there a direct boycott of not purchasing X. (Jill G. Klein, 2004)
The second level of boycotting is, Secondary Boycotting, in this case the individual refuses to purchase or support anything from an entity that sells goods and services from the entity the individual is boycotting, example; story Y sells X, so I will not purchase from store Y.
Such an attitude towards a customer or consumer behavior will push store Y to also boycott products X, hence a stronger economic arm added to the boycotting behavior.
An example of this case is Nike back in the 1990’s where an extreme global boycott took place due to Nike’s operations in Indonesia regarding their unethical approach towards human rights, and child labor the movement was called “Anti-Sweat shop”. This movement also proved how globalization and the era of the internet can support small communities through global boycotting, which a similar example to what is happening today regarding the Israeli Palestinian conflict. (Harrison, 2004)
The community, individuals, their purchasing power and stand pressured governments to make a change, and this is the main objective for any boycotting activity.
Finally, the last level of boycotting is called a strike, it is when the employees and workers involved in the organization, store or entity of boycott, simply stop working and stand for their rights or their cause, just like what happened last year with the Teachers Union in Jordan . The teachers strike in Jordan that took place in 2019 was one of the country’s longest ever public sector strike affecting over 1.5 million students, calling for the cause of teachers, which the increase in their salaries and enhancement of their working conditions. (ALJAZEERA , 2019)
To organize a boycott there must be “Clear Goals and realistic” an example would be putting an organization our of business, or as discussed above, pressuring government to change laws or oversee a specific issue taking place.
“Do your research” if an individual or a community are calling out to boycott an organization, you should know all about it, who they are, what they are doing, how they operate, and how are their activities connected to the cause of the boycott.
“Know everyone you want to boycott” this is when further research is needed for the boycotting activity, you can be boycotting a large corporation that holds under smaller brand or companies that are of reach to your surrounding and community, as per the example giving above, when you are boycotting Nestle, know all its product and boycott them, cut off all its possible financial income.
“Partner with a group that shares your values and objective for the boycott”
This is the right time to use your local boycotts, the smaller shops and individuals are the ones with an upper hand to paralyze the larger multinational organization the more people involved and sharing the same objective for the boycott, the more it succeeds. With the social media tools, we have, we can reach people from around the globe, use It in the right respected way.
“Let perpetrators know of your movement” When you’ve done your research, found partners, and are ready to roll, it makes sense for you to start by telling the company what you are going to do. This threat is sometimes (though rarely) all you need to do. When the company sees you are serious about boycotting them, they may decide to come to the table and work with you. Be open, there might be proper democratic ways to settle this and even get their support on your cause, its not by simply growing negative noise about them, today, social media can do the job by tagging the brands, or reaching out to them.
Inform them of the main following points, they might agree and support your cause by boycotting the larger corporations:
Why is this boycott taking place?
· What is the plan to be able to accomplish this boycotts objective?
· When and how are you intending to start the boycott?
In conclusion, it is all about possibilities and standing for the values and policies each individual believes are right, today, as individuals on this earth, under parliamentary institutes, governments and countries we have rights to us, and rights to our country or states. Structured and planned approaches for boycotting are successful if done right and if are cleared from any misleading information. The strength lies within knowing the source of cash or source of damage to be able to construct the right plan for boycotting. An important action that must be taken into consideration when planning a boycott, try to reach to the source you are boycotting, inform them of your action, there is a possibility to get the right action done without massive destruction to your efforts, and the entity boycotted.
Author: Ranna Junidi