Newsflash: Consumers are Growing Tired of Boycotts

( – A number of large corporations have seen consumers turn away in politically charged boycotts this year in the US. Perhaps the most well-known boycott was that of Bud Light beer, sold by international company Anheuser-Busch, after a controversial partnership with Dylan Mulvaney.

Mulvaney, known as a transgender activist, starred in a publicity campaign in April in which he promoted Bud Light beer. A mostly conservative based backlash against the brand saw Anheuser-Busch’s profits drop sharply, with April–June 2023 profits falling by 10.5% compared to the same period in 2022.

Bud Light is one of several boycotts that have left a dent in the market. Target was the subject of a similar, mostly conservative, outcry after it stocked its stores with pro-LGBT merchandise in honor of the month of July, otherwise marketed as “Pride Month”. This merchandise included products aimed at children, such as a book titled “Bye Bye Binary”. Target’s profits were 5% lower in April-June 2023 compared to the same time the previous year.

Despite the apparent power of consumer boycotts, some have claimed that ordinary Americans are beginning to experience a so-called “Boycott Fatigue” in the face of an ever-increasing number of campaigns to damage the profit margins of companies that have been accused of acting, or not acting, in a politically biased manner. Boycotts can be effective campaigns, but they are only effective for as long as consumers are willing to inconvenience themselves by not purchasing the goods or services they otherwise would have done. For some, this can prove tiresome to maintain over longer periods of time, particularly when the list of companies to avoid grows longer and longer.

The calls for boycotts have not solely originated from the right of the political aisle, either, with some left-wing consumers trying to influence companies to align with their own aims. Coffee chain Starbucks has found itself under fire from both left and right-wing coffee drinkers lately after the Starbucks Workers United labor union, not endorsed by Starbucks, shared a pro-Palestinian message showing a bulldozer that they said was tearing down an “Israeli occupation fence” following Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Hamas-controlled Gaza. Starbucks has faced calls from some to denounce Israel and to support the labor union, and calls from others to show support for Israel instead.

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