Ban and Boycott. It’s one of the Left’s knee-jerk reactions when confronted with a perceived slight, a cause, or merely somebody taking an opposing opinion. This Thursday the call has gone out for liberal consumers to take inaction against major companies that have not come out in opposition the National Rifle Association.
Specifically targeted are Amazon, Apple TV, and FedEx. Other lists are floating around social media that tabulate more companies that retain partnerships with the Second Amendment lobbying organization. Today those entities will all supposedly feel the sting of the aggrieved consumer. Except as we have often seen that acetylene-hot reaction that is scorching say, Twitter, becomes little more than burnt toast when you step away from digital social portals.
As praise has been blasted across the media for companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods for taking a stand against guns/NRA, it has been learned that the social posturing of this type of corporate virtue signaling is not the wise move for businesses. All that that click-bait well-wishing is a different animal than actual marketplace action, and companies may need to take note of what has been revealed by Morning Consult.
The commerce portal conducted a poll with a unique framework that exposes the reaction in the marketplace specific to the moves by various companies to distance themselves from the NRA. In a poll of over 2,000 respondents from across the country MC first measured generic favorability/unfavorability for selected companies. Next, they informed respondents of the decision by these same companies to discontinue offers or discounts for NRA members, and then remeasured reactions.
The results were stark. It is of little surprise that the reactions would differ between political parties, but it is the level of reaction that is noteworthy. While Democrats were uniformly favorable the increase in that number was negligible. But when Republicans were re-tabulated their negative response was vastly more dramatic. The result is that across the list all the companies that have made a grandstanding anti-NRA gesture suffered a drop in favorability.
Take the case of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, one of the first to make a bold announcement it was severing its NRA ties. As Democrats favored the move it only resulted in an uptick of a few percentage points. In contrast Republicans, who strongly favored the company with a +52%, turned that to a negative number following the move. That is a jarring change of heart, and one a corporate boardroom is likely to more than notice — it could be felt.
These numbers reflect the dichotomy between the loud hectoring herd on social media and the practical application of the marketplace. As I had detailed in the Dick’s gun decision, while the company is praised digitally they are facing a stark reality in the business world. The outdoor-hunting division of Dick’s/Field & Stream has been seeing a sharp decline in same store sales.
This new announcement to curtail gun availability will have a direct influence on that already depleted customer base. There is a strong likelihood those customers will seek out competitors like Bass Pro, or Cabella’s. And all because Dick’s appeased the mostly impotent keyboard warriors on the internet. I hope their new hackey-sack customer base can replace the former hunting clientele.
It is one thing to have Mika Brzezinski rave that she’ll buy her running shoes at Dick’s from now on, but when an entire demographic of your customer base is measurably in opposition that is what will carry the weight. While celebrities and activist firebrands on social media may sound like they are influential the real-market reactions are more indicative that the right-of-center consumers are far more proactive in their decisions to vote with their wallet.
Let’s face it, most of these companies were merely making symbolic moves to curry a reaction. Few if any members of the NRA would be swayed in the least to lose a rental car discount. That has little bearing on their membership. But these corporations felt the need to make these moves. What they are likely to discover is while they loudly proclaim their suspension of these offers to NRA members many more conservatives will quietly take their business elsewhere.