Quick question; off the top of your head, how many “boycott” requests have you seen in the last five years? I’m guessing the number is quite large because it’s the #1 knee-jerk reaction. If I stop doing ____, they’ll have to notice and change their evil and incorrect methods! They must! They shall! And they will if I just “vote with my feet”.
And when you did “vote with your feet”, seven hermits in Thailand synchronized their timepieces, returned to their huts, and at 11:23PM the following day, they farted in the solitude…if it had even that much impact.
Seriously folks, boycott is powerful, but only in certain circumstances. If you’re talking about the only grocer in a town of 28 people, and the head of one household with three kids boycotts, then the grocer has lost five consumers. 17.85 % of the customer base. He’ll sell 17.85 % less bread, 17.85 % less Froot Loops, and 17.85 % less Mac’n’cheez. This means at the end of the week, his books will come up 17.85 % short of the performance seen last week.
Take money out of it, let’s simplify it. Think…ping pong balls. Every person who goes to his store this week puts a ping pong ball in a box. End of week, the balls are returned to their rightful owner and the process begins again. In this scenario, you might actually notice that there’s not as many ping pong balls in the box as there was last week. The absence of 5 ping pong balls, it’s a lot. This is the effect of boycott in a specific circumstance. With a town of 28 people, 5 people not using his store might be noticed…provided there is no pass-thru traffic.
Now, let’s look at…Starbucks, for example. Almost 25,000 locations, 19 Billion revenue in 2015, quarter million employees, and no real sign it’s going to go bad instantly for them. In short, they’re in good position. So…let’s say they make a rule against…baseball caps. It upsets many, so let’s drop that b-bomb on ’em and boycott ’em.
Let’s say that in their locations, the overall average is…150 customers a day. It’s lowball, but let’s roll with it. We’ll counter this lowball by rounding up the locations to an even 25,000. The result is a 3,750,000 average daily customer figure total. For a seven day week, we have a result of 26,250,000. Per week, that’s how many customers go to Starbucks in our scenario; twenty-six and one quarter million people liked them some fancy java that week.
But no! No! No! No! Because of their Nazi Fascist Baseball cap rule, I’m gonna tell….um….TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE! And they’ll all boycott ’cause I’m the bees knees and people shiv a git about what I say! And That dastardly Commie place Starbucks, they’re gonna lose ten thousand customers!
And one of the hermits farted a quarter-second longer than all the other hermits, but with slightly less volume due to the additional duration.
Let’s pong this. You’ve got 26,250,000 ping pong balls in one place. Yeah, just try to imagine 26 (and another quarter) million ping pong balls in one place. Now, because of some hat rule protest, take away 10,000. Now there are 26,240,000 ping pong balls. Would you notice? Hell, would Rainman have noticed?
I…really doubt it. And I really doubt Starbucks would either. If you just took the money that the chain made in that week, piled it up, and subtracted the amount they’d lose from those ten thousand customers, they still wouldn’t notice. The sheer volume greatly outshines any small deduction to the point where your protest is lost in the noise.
Here’s the deal. Boycotts work…on a small scale. If you can tell enough people to boycott something, you might make the powers in charge take notice. If you’re a single voice in the mass, even without your voice the mass still exists. If your voice is small, you may not be heard at all over the mass, and whether it is there or not matters little. If you’re trying to make a huge entity change, a boycott is kind of like peeing on yourself in wintertime; you notice, and it feels nice and warm, but nobody else is aware of the warmth and even if you tell them they’re unlikely to believe you about the beneficial warmth.
And…let’s be honest. If you’re throwing a party at your house and I don’t like you or your party, the best thing I could possibly do for you is not come! I’m a simple man but if I’m throwin’ a party, I don’t want no naysayers there. I don’t want no wet blankets. I want everybody there to be in the mood to party hard at my party! You don’t approve? Then please, boycott me, ’cause I don’t need your noise in the midst of my rockin’ party! You being home while I’m getting’ my party on, that’s fine because I am throwin’ a party and I only want party-goers to go to my parties!
How better to disrupt my party? Don’t boycott. Show up, but don’t participate. Be in my space, but ignore my proceedings. Be there, but don’t be part of my party. Do your thing. Wear a t-shirt that’s neon electric green, and all your fellow protesters wear it. Chant things that have nothing to do with my party. Get all your fellow protesters to sing a wholly irrelevant song for the entire duration of my party. Loudly and proudly singin’ “Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care” at the top of your lungs. Smuggle in vuvuzela and blow ’em until your lungs bleed!
Right now, there’s a big fuff about the NFL and people are calling for boycott and all that, unknowingly asking protesters to make the NFL stronger with their absence. Making the stadiums perhaps weaker in number, but stronger in allegiance, fewer people, but more room for those loyal to the brand. Seems silly to me, really. They’re not going to notice a few dollars missing, I’d imagine employees scam as much if not more than a boycott would cost, but they’d sure notice a thousand people blowing those stupid-loud horns for the entire duration of every game. No microphone being able to pick up anything without picking up those horns blowing and at some point people figuring out that those horns are there for a simple reason; protest. Better still commentators having to acknowledge to the viewing audience why it sounds like a South Africa soccer game in the good ol’ US of A.
Sometimes, boycotting works. Sometimes though, you’re just helping the entity gain strength by condensing the loyalty and leaving them more room to do whatever they do. How better to improve a party than to figure out how to make all the people stay home if they don’t support you or your party? Boycott works on paper, but on paper is one of very few places it does work.