Consumer Power

I often wonder if our protests against what we see as injustices in the world actually make much difference. I realise that in the past the combined efforts of people across the world have made a significant contribution to the changes in South Africa, but what about our protests against commercial organisations like Nestlé?

Recently I found a website that listed known subsidiaries of Nestlé and I realised that my boycott of their products was actually quite ineffective, they own so many companies (including Bodyshop!) and they don’t announce their ownership on the labelling.

I was greatly encouraged then to read about a conversation involving a senior executive from Nestlé who was asked what effect the baby milk boycott of the company was having. He replied that it was having very little effect in economic terms …

… but it makes it harder to attract and hold good staff. They get jobs with us, but then go home, and people say: “What? You’re working for Nestlé? Do your friends still talk to you? Do your children still love you?

So, community protests in the form of boycotts can make an impact but not necessarily the one that we might have originally thought. Now that I have been encouraged by this, and armed with my up to date list, I will continue to boycott Nestlé and think again about our consumer power.

(quotation from Rekindling Community by Alistair McIntosh)

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