Department of Marketing

Are Boycott Motives Rationalizations?

Previous models of boycott motivation are incomplete because they only consider beliefs and attitudes. This article argues that consumers' proximity to the consequences of the critical actions of a company is the primary trigger of the desire to boycott. As consumers need to justify this desire, they search for supportive arguments. Thus, the arguments consumers give to explain why they are boycotting or not are pre-decisional rationalizations rather than independent rational considerations. Consequently, the paper suggests that scholars need to respecify the antecedents identified in prior studies. These constructs are mediator variables of the indirect influence of proximity on boycott participation. The paper tests the assumptions on the basis of survey data gathered from 544 consumers using the example of a real boycott that was called in response to factory relocation. The model proposed was tested by means of partial least squares regression analysis. The mediation hypotheses were examined using simple and multiple mediation tests. The empirical study confirms that boycott motives are mainly rationalizations of a pre-existing desire to boycott, which is contingent on proximity. Managerial implications and avenues for further research are proposed.

Hoffmann, S.. (2013) Are Boycott Motives Rationalizations?, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 12 (3), 214-222.