How to Survive a Chinese Consumer Boycott
Chinese boycotts do not arise in a vacuum. But to date, global companies have had limited resources at their disposal to systematically understand the factors that incite Chinese consumers to boycott foreign brands, as well as what might motivate them to stop. The need for such resources is even more acute amid ever-present geopolitical tensions that increasingly pose risks to overseas companies.
This playbook offers a remedy. By leveraging Morning Consult’s Political Intelligence data, we provide a one-stop shop for Western brands seeking to avoid Chinese consumer boycotts and regain consumers’ favor when they do arise. Read on for concrete guidance on boycott-proofing your brand.
- The risk of boycotts has risen since China’s reopening: Since January 2023, the share of Chinese adults who say they would be willing to boycott a foreign-owned company over the next 12 months has risen nearly 30 percentage points. More than 7 in 10 Chinese adults now say they would be at least “somewhat willing” to boycott a foreign company or product in the next year.
- Brands serving women and wealthier consumers are among the most exposed: Over 2 in 5 Chinese adults (43%) report having boycotted a foreign company’s goods or services in the past year. Notably, the share of women who reported doing so far exceeded the share of men (59% vs. 30%). And 83% of women say they would be at least "somewhat willing" to boycott foreign goods in the coming year, compared with 61% of men.
- Chinese consumers are surprisingly willing to forgive and forget: Presented with a wide range of actions that Western companies could take to placate protesting consumers, Chinese adults were largely receptive; roughly 7 in 10 said they would be at least “somewhat likely” to stop boycotting in response to each of the corporate actions included in the survey.
About the author
Scott Moskowitz is senior analyst for the Asia-Pacific region at Morning Consult, where he leads geopolitical analysis of China and broader regional issues. Scott holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University and has years of experience working in and conducting Mandarin-language research on China, with an emphasis on the politics of economic development and consumerism. Follow him on Twitter @ScottyMoskowitz. Interested in connecting with Scott to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].