Brand boycotts are declining as inflation pressures shoppers

May 4, 2023
Written by WR Communications


By Claire Tassin

Twenty-one percent of consumers say they’ve boycotted a brand for political reasons, a 10-percentage point drop from 2021. Inflation-driven economic pressures are primarily responsible for this shift, as consumers now have less flexibility in their budgets to shop according to their values.

Messaging about environmental, social, and governance practices is less relevant to shoppers when their budgets are squeezed, but consumers will still punish brands that cross ethical lines.

2020 saw many brands speaking out in support of racial justice protests after George Floyd’s murder. At the same time, consumers were paying attention to how brands were treating their employees amid pandemic lockdowns. In 2021, shoppers were generally supportive of brands speaking out on social and political issues. Now, many of those same brands are keeping silent after tragedies and court decisions. So are consumers: In 2023, fewer shoppers are aligning their spending with brands that share their values.

The disruption of pandemic lockdowns meant that all eyes were on the broad issues impacting most Americans. Since then, people’s lives have largely returned to normal, with all the distractions that come with it. Economic pressure from inflation also means consumers can’t necessarily afford to shop from all the brands they’d like to support or might abandon a preferred product for one that’s more expensive if their go-to goes against their beliefs.

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