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The Fallout from French nuclear testing in the South Pacific: a longitudinal study of consumer boycotts

Author: Ettenson, Richard ; Klein, JillINSEAD Area: MarketingIn: International Marketing Review, vol. 22, no. 2, 2005 Description: p. 199-224.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: Purpose – The frequency and sophistication of consumer boycotts continue to increase from already high levels. Surprisingly, only limited research in marketing has investigated this topic. The purpose of this paper is to provide a strategic analysis of an actual consumer protest with implications for better managerial decisions. Design/methodology/approach – The animosity model of consumer purchase behavior was employed in two longitudinal studies to investigate an ongoing marketplace protest – Australian consumers’ boycott of French products. Study 1 was carried out while France was engaged in nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Study 2 was carried out 1 year after the resolution of the conflict. Findings – Results from Study 1 show that Australian consumers’ animosity toward France was negatively related to their willingness to purchase French products. Consistent with a key prediction from the animosity model, this effect was independent of evaluations of French product quality. The findings from Study 2 show that, a year after the cessation of nuclear testing, Australian consumers continue to have strong negative affect toward France, which in turn, had negative marketplace consequences for French products. Originality/value – While the results from Study 1 show that consumer anger over nuclear testing did not necessarily lead to the denigration of the quality of French goods, the second study indicates that, beyond the duration of the official protest, there may be repercussions for products associated with the offending party. Accordingly, managers should consider implementing communications programs which, over time, effectively reinforce the quality of their products in the minds of protesting consumers.
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Purpose – The frequency and sophistication of consumer boycotts continue to increase from already high levels. Surprisingly, only limited research in marketing has investigated this topic. The purpose of this paper is to provide a strategic analysis of an actual consumer protest with implications for better managerial decisions.
Design/methodology/approach – The animosity model of consumer purchase behavior was employed in two longitudinal studies to investigate an ongoing marketplace protest – Australian consumers’ boycott of French products. Study 1 was carried out while France was engaged in nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Study 2 was carried out 1 year after the resolution of the conflict.
Findings – Results from Study 1 show that Australian consumers’ animosity toward France was negatively related to their willingness to purchase French products. Consistent with a key prediction from the animosity model, this effect was independent of evaluations of French product quality. The findings from Study 2 show that, a year after the cessation of nuclear testing, Australian consumers continue to have strong negative affect toward France, which in turn, had negative marketplace consequences for French products.
Originality/value – While the results from Study 1 show that consumer anger over nuclear testing did not necessarily lead to the denigration of the quality of French goods, the second study indicates that, beyond the duration of the official protest, there may be repercussions for products associated with the offending party. Accordingly, managers should consider implementing communications programs which, over time, effectively reinforce the quality of their products in the minds of protesting consumers.

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