Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. Vote With Your Dollars

Economic pressure is real.
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Are you feeling disempowered? Don’t feel as if your voice is heard, especially now that the election is over? What can you do and will it make a difference? As a consumer, you have immense power with your spending.

The Power Of The Purse

If you’ve been watching the political commentary (or reading the President’s tweets), the “power of the purse” was marked by consumers choosing not to buy products from Ivanka Trump’s brand. This was highlighted most recently, as Nordstrom responded by dropping the line. I’m not going to discuss our President’s tweet that his daughter was “treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom,” nor will I address the quote by a spokesperson for the first daughter’s fashion label, who asserted that, “the brand’s overall sales were up 21% in 2016 compared to the prior year. I will even bite my tongue and not comment on Kellyanne Conway’s promotion of Ivanka’s products on national television. (Although I might take issue with her fashion flair at the inauguration when it was noted that Paddington Bear picked out her outfit. Not to mention that she forgot that “Buy American” does not seem to cover her Gucci inauguration outfit.) I write about money and I’m trying to stay in my lane!

The point I’m trying to make is that consumers seem to “voting” a lot since the election. Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Shoes.com, Belk, ShopStyle, Bellacor, Jet.com, and Gilt, have all dropped some or all of Ivanka’s line as well as other Trump-branded products. Also, the New York Times reported employees at T.J Maxx and Marshalls have been told that “all Ivanka Trump signage should be discarded.” The retail ballot boxes seem to be open for business.

The Cost Of The Walk Of Shame

Boycott campaigns are springing up. For instance, the hashtag #GrabYourWallet has formed and has millions of impressions and shares since Shannon Coulter, a brand and digital strategist, coined it in October of 2016. She compiled a list of retailers that have business ties to the Trump family and that list is growing.

She is asking retailors that carry Ivanka Trump’s Collection to boycott the products. These retailors include such stores as; Macy’s, Nordstrom, Amazon, Lord & Taylor, Marshalls, Zappos, etc. She is counting on people to vote with their money. The theory is that, even if sales are not hurt, reputations can be damaged.

An example of this theory was with Nike in the 1990s. It was revealed that they were using child labor and that resulted in a boycott. The goal was to create a blow to their reputation, if not to their bottom line. There was an outcry, Nike’s image was damaged, and sales were hurt. Another notable example of the “Walk Of Shame,” was with Dior. Their creative director and designer, John Galliano, was exposed as an anti-Semite after he made remarks in public. Dior fired him after a public storm of criticism.

Does Voting With Your Wallet Work?

For me, the most notable example of economics affecting politics was in South Africa. The ruling white minority didn’t just wake up one day and realize that their legal discrimination against the black majority was wrong; extreme economic pressure was applied to twist their arms. This started first with the consumer who “voted” not to buy products from companies who “supported” white South African companies. They spoke loudly.

Here in the U.S., people started to put pressure on American companies that had economic ties to companies in South Africa and could therefore benefit from apartheid. The pressure was felt and institutional investors, like banks, universities and pension funds, started to disinvest in South Africa. The movement started in the 60s, when the United Nations passed a resolution establishing a Special Committee against apartheid calling for economic boycotts and other sanctions. The movement didn’t gain real traction until the 1980s.

I was working at Chase Bank as the movement took hold. I remember being at a shareholder’s meeting in the early 1970s, which was conducted by our then Chairman, David Rockefeller. He indicated, in response to hecklers in the meeting, that Chase was not going to do business with South Africa until their discriminatory policies ended. I was impressed that the collective global shareholders were voting with their money. It worked. In 1986, the U.S. implemented the disinvestment campaign incorporating it into federal legislation. This all led to putting enough pressure on the South African government to start negotiation that ultimately led to the dismantling of the apartheid system.

As a side note, Britain never joined the movement. They said that they thought that the economic sanctions were “unconstitutional.”

The “bottom line” to all this? Economic pressure is real. So, get out and vote… with your wallet!

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