Affluent Baby Boomers More Likely Than Most to Boycott Companies - Ipsos-Reid Global Poll

But 39-country study also shows consumer boycotts have little appeal outside of North America and Western Europe

VANCOUVER, November 14, 2000 - Consumer muscle, in the form of product boycotts, doesn't get flexed very much outside of major developed countries, according to the results of a poll conducted in 39 countries by Ipsos-Reid, a leading market research and public opinion company. Still, companies shouldn't underestimate consumers, especially affluent Baby Boomers in the U.S. and Canada who seem far more open to boycotts than any other age group surveyed.

Regionally, half of North Americans, and two in five Western Europeans and Australians say they have boycotted specific products because of concerns with a specific company's policies and behavior. Outside of these developed regions of the globe, only a minority of the public has ever resorted to this tactic, the study found.

By country, the findings show that American consumers seem to be the most open to boycotts, with 50% having indicated they boycotted a company's products at some time. Consumers in Canada (48%), the U.K. (45%), Denmark and Norway (44%), Germany and Australia (40%) also report refusing to buy specific products as way of showing their unhappiness with corporations. But the percentage of citizens supporting boycotts is relatively low in such regions as Latin America (23%), the Baltic States (21%) Eastern Europe 16%) and Asia (15%).

These findings emerge from Ipsos-Reid's ongoing study on trade policy and other social and political aspects of globalization. Recently, the company probed global public opinion about two other issues that represent a sensitive barometer of public mood - support for global institutions and assessments of the local impact of expanding global trade. Highlights

North Americans aged 35-54 are far and away the most boycott-prone group on the planet. Nearly two out of three (60%) North American Baby Boomers say they have participated in a product boycott.

"This generation's collective experience as citizens and consumers began with the 1960's lettuce and grape boycotts in the supermarkets and university cafeterias in support of the United Farm Workers. And it seems to be have been kept alive with a score of subsequent product boycotts on behalf and in support of everything and everyone from dolphins to workers in Third World nations," said Gus Schattenberg, Ipsos-Reid Vice President of Global Research.

The 18 to 34 year olds in North America have somewhat less interest in boycotts - their level of participation at 44% is closer to that of the55+ "silent" generation (41%). Consumer activism touches Western European consumers more equally across age groups, in contrast to the generational divide in the North American experience.

Elsewhere, differences are barely significant, with Latin American and Asian Boomers only slightly ahead of youth and no major differences between the two generations in Eastern Europe or the Newly Independent States.


Information on consumer boycott experience is taken from The Ipsos-Reid World Monitor, a quarterly poll of global public opinion available by subscription.

The latest poll was conducted by telephone or in-person interviews between June 9 and July 12, 2000 among 20,170 respondents in 39 countries distributed across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. All country samples were nationally representative, except for developing countries in Latin America, Asia, and the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, where coverage was limited to urban areas.

National samples each consisted of 500 adults aged 18 and over, except in the USA where 1,000 adult interviews were conducted. Results for the USA are accurate within an error margin of no more than plus/minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Elsewhere in the world, the results are accurate within an error margin of no more than plus/minus 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Ipsos-Reid

Ipsos-Reid has been tracking public opinion around the world for more than 20 years and has become a leading provider of global public opinion and market research to private, public and not for profit organizations in over 50 countries. With more than 1,300 staff in ten cities, Ipsos-Reid offers clients a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus and online research products and services. It is best known for its line of Express opinion polls, the World Monitor public affairs journal, and The Face of The Web, the most comprehensive study of global Internet usage and trends. It is a member of Paris-based Ipsos Group, ranked among the top ten research groups in the world.

For more information, please contact:

Gus Schattenberg 604) 893-1606

More insights about Consumer Goods

Consumer & Shopper