Boycotts Versus Buycotts

Ed Stack, the anti-gun CEO of Dick’s, said the buycott of his chain really didn’t help his company’s bottom line. However, the boycott of Dick’s by Second Amendment supporters did hurt the company’s finances.

This comes from an interview Stack did with Business Insider.

Dick’s Sporting Goods contended with both boycotts and “buycotts” in the wake of its decision to draw back from the gun business.

But according to CEO Ed Stack, the consumers who gave the company the cold shoulder had a far greater effect on business than any newfound supporters.

The word “boycott” originated with a protest by the Irish Land League against the actions of Captain Charles Boycott 1880. It means withholding your services or financial support as a means of political protest.

“Buycott” is of more recent vintage and means just the opposite. You go out of your way to buy the product or services of a company as a show of support for their political position.

Stack noted that while he appreciated all the support for stopping sales of modern sporting rifles, it was short lived.

“The buycotts were really nice and we appreciated it, but they were kind of short-lived,” Stack told Business Insider.

Stack said that alienated consumers included both hunters and non-hunters who felt “angry” over Dick’s decision to back away from the gun business. All in all, striking guns from the stores ended up costing the company.

“By the time we got done, it was about a quarter of a billion dollars,” Stack said.

It is one of the tenets of sales that it costs more to gain a customer than to keep one. Moreover, the lifetime value of an existing customer far outweighs that of a one-time purchaser. The person who spends $750 on an AR and comes back to you to buy ammo on regular basis is worth more to your company than the mom who drops in once in a blue moon to buy running togs.

Stack should have read Joe Girard’s book How to Sell Anything to Anybody. Joe Girard was the world’s greatest car salesman. He found that the average person has about 250 friends and acquaintances who will show up to your funeral. If you make that person angry by your service or attitude, he or she is likely to influence 250 other people. Unfortunately for Stack, people are more likely to complain than to give kudos and his bottom line proved it.

I Can’t Believe CNBC Bought This Nonsense

Yesterday, Elliot Fineman of the Brady offshoot National Gun Victims (sic) Action Council was interviewed by Melissa Lee of CNBC. The interview centered on his group’s boycott of Starbucks due to their policy of neutrality on gun issues. Fineman said the boycott would be ongoing. Of course, no mention was made of the Valentine’s Day BUYcott by either Fineman or CNBC.

The story was presented in such a way as to give credence to Fineman’s claims that the boycott would impact Starbucks. When  pressed on how it would be determined that his group’s boycott was hurting Starbucks’ bottomline, Fineman said that they were using self-reported data from their supporters on how much they were not spending at Starbucks.

Excuse me but self-reported data from their “followers” is not exactly reliable data from which to make projections. Fineman then says that their Monte Carlo simulations show that 90% of the time their boycott will have “a significant impact on the Starbucks’ stock.” Having used Monte Carlo simulation with retirement planning for years, I understand the results you get are very dependent upon both the constraints and the input data. In other words, if you put garbage in, you will get garbage out and that is exactly what they are getting.

It is very hard to prove a negative unlike a positive. The results from the BUYcott can be shown by an increase in sales for February 14th. However, a decline in sales over time would be hard to attribute to just the boycott by Fineman’s group. There are many other factors like the state of the economy and competitors (like McDonalds) which come into play which are much more significant.

Fineman goes on to say that institutional investors who own 357 million shares of Starbucks’ stock should be able to make their own decision based upon his studies. However, they don’t plan to go to the institutional investors to pressure them to pressure Starbucks.

If Fineman is so confident in his projections, then he should have no problem presenting them to investors nor have a problem with pressuring these same institutional investors. I would speculate the reason he won’t be “pressuring” the institutional investors is because he knows he would be laughed out of the room.

Our BUYcott Visit To Starbucks

We thoroughly enjoyed our caramel macchiato and cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks this afternoon. It was a nice treat for Valentine’s Day.

I stopped by the bank earlier today to get some $2 bills and made sure to leave the tip for the Starbucks’ barristas using a $2 bill obtained just for the BUYcott.

The other thing I did was send an email to the District Manager for the Starbucks in Western North Carolina. I explained why we went to Starbucks today and thanked her for the company’s policy of neutrality on gun issues. I also said we expected to partake of their fine coffees more frequently.

BUYcott Day

The Complementary Spouse and I intend to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and gun rights by meeting at Starbucks after work for a nice coffee drink as part of Starbucks Appreciation Day. I also plan to stop by the bank to get some $2 bills to leave in the tip jar.

Those calling for the boycott aren’t exactly happy that their attempt at publicity has been turned back on them. The National Gun Victims (sic) Action Council released a letter yesterday from a group of professional “peace activists.” They freely acknowledge that those of us who believe in our rights will be sipping our coffees, teas, and hot chocolates today at Starbucks and that we will be creating a bump in sales for Starbucks.

We also hope to say “thank you” soon for leadership on the legislative front¬–the kind of leadership you are exercising with respect to marriage equality. So far, your publicized rationale in defense of welcoming guns in your stores has (been) simple: you state that Starbucks is just following the law, state by state. That means that in 43 states you welcome openly carried guns and other firearms, while saying ‘yes’ to concealed carry in 49 states. But the law in all 50 states allows you to ban guns from your stores. Starbucks can do more than choose between competing laws. Starbucks can help change the law! Starbucks can use its corporate clout, in cooperation with others to challenge the powerful gun lobby, end the impasse in Washington that has blocked any meaningful gun violence prevention legislation in the 18 years since the Brady Bill was passed.

What they are having trouble comprehending is that support for marriage equality and gay rights doesn’t automatically correlate into support for gun control. Indeed, if they had looked at the plaintiffs in a number of important gun rights cases, they might have understood that many gay men and women have rejected being kept defenseless. That the right to self-defense and self-protection is a human right seems to have eluded the gun prohibitionists and the professional peace activist groups.