Definition of consumer activism

The range of activities undertaken by consumers or NGOs to make demands or state their views about certain causes linked directly or indirectly to a company.

In the extreme case, such movement could push for a complete boycott of a product or brand. These days, consumer activism often happens both online and offline and can cross borders. Companies could be targeted because of something they did (eg, sourcing from suppliers who rely on child labour) or simply because of their association with a certain country or region (eg, Danish companies in the wake of the Muslim cartoon controversy). Targeted companies can fight back, comply or ignore the demands.


In 2010 Greenpeace organized a campaign encouraging consumers to boycott the Kit Kat chocolate bar brand. Greenpeace alleged that Nestlé sourced palm oil from Indonesian companies that destroyed the rainforest, thereby undermining the habitat of orang-utans. The campaign singled out one major offender, Sinar Mas. One of Greenpeace’s most effective tools was a parody of a Kit Kat break commercial posted on YouTube asking Nestlé to give the rainforest a break. In response to the campaign, Nestlé cut its ties with Sinar Mas. The company also promised to source only rainforest-sustainable palm oil by 2015. [1]


Article: Nestlé learns to see the wood for the trees

FT Articles & Analysis

No articles are associated with this term

Related Terms

No related terms are available