The paper aims to explore how idiosyncratic motives drive participation in consumer boycotts and how the motives of different adopters (e.g. innovators, laggards) differ. The study seeks to describe how boycott motives are embedded in the fields of consumer resistance and anti‐consumption.
The paper applies a mixed‐method approach of qualitative and quantitative methods. Internet postings of 790 boycott supporters are analyzed by means of a content analysis. The relevance of different motives is examined via frequency analysis. Contingency analysis is applied to explore segment‐specific motives.
Using the example of factory relocation, the study identifies several idiosyncratic motives that are contingent to the boycott cause. Additionally, it confirms that the motives of different adopters differ. Individuals who are personally affected or feel solidarity with those affected join the boycott relatively early whereas those who join later consider the pros and cons of the boycott more rationally.
Further research should apply quantitative research methods to ensure the stability of the findings. The external validity needs to be tested for different boycott types.
Some consumers join boycotts because they feel solidarity with those affected by the actions of a company (resistance‐boycotter), whereas others generally criticize the free‐market economy and are generally prone to boycott any company (anti‐consumption‐boycotters). Companies need to ensure that both types of boycotters consider them socially responsible.
This study provides evidence that boycott motives are case‐contingent. Additionally, this is the first study to demonstrate how motives for joining a boycott vary in the course of time.
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