You know what I’m talking about. Consumers and companies, NGOs and unions all love the feeling of power. Boycotting, striking, organised marches and stay-aways are all becoming inceasingly effective in a world of social-media connectedness.
There are a few key things I’d like to point out about this growing trend. Firstly, contrary to popular belief, customers obviously care about the brands they interact with, and want to have their say in the direction the brand takes. Secondly, there are few to no barriers to entry to join popularist movements and become an ‘activist’. This means that any- and everyone feels entitled and is able to have their say, no matter. Thirdly, collaboration is more important than ownership – and so activists are able to hide behind a cloud of annonymity while still feeling that they make a difference. Fourthly, there is going to be huge opportunities to work in trend-spotting, watching out for popular sentiment and diverting away from, or leveraging the risks that movements create.
Here’s a great example of what boycotting looks like in the year 2012: “The CEO of Chick-fil-A‘s position on same-sex marriage has provoked a consumer boycott, mayoral threats of denied permits, a counter-boycott culminating in a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” and a kiss-in.” This, according to HBR, is indicative of consumers and organisations no longer aiming at company-specific issues, but rather wishing to change entire indsutries and their behaviours.
I maintain that we see an upswing of this sort of activity due to the incredible success of campaigns such as what happened in Egypt. But since Kony2012, people have become much more aggressive and active in their voicing of particular opinions. It may be worrying to think that for once, South Africa’s unions and politcal slants are actually ahead of where the world seems to be aiming for.