43

Boycotting is a classic consumer strategy to, in a sense, vote with your feet or with your dollar against some business that is doing something you find troubling, whether integral to the business, like slaughtering practices for meat, or incidental, like personal ethics violations by management.

But there is a practice that is the reverse for this, that is, providing additional support or changing brands to a business that does good things, changing business practices to acceptable ones, or giving to charities you approve. In the end, rewarding the company for activity that you like.

Is there a good term that captures this 'opposite' of boycotting?

Dictionaries specify 'support' as the antonym, but that word is much too broad to correspond well with 'boycott'. There are other terms: 'sanction' (an auto-antonym), 'encourage patronage' (probably the most exact but a bit of a mouthful)

Obviously the best corresponding word would be just as snappy as 'boycott': 'reverse boycott' (but still possible negative), 'to santa clause' (like a gift?).

Can you make a case for these or other suggestions?

  • 62
    You're not trolling us for girlcott, are you? – Robusto Dec 12 '16 at 15:49
  • 9
    I tend to agree with this article, which points out that building a better mousetrap isn't necessarily a sure-fire prescription for commercial success. But if people are buying a better mousetrap, they're definitely endorsing the product, as opposed to boycotting it. – FumbleFingers Dec 12 '16 at 16:24
  • 3
    Is the word support not quite "snappy" enough for you? I see the word support used to convey this sentiment rather often. – J.R. Dec 12 '16 at 18:09
  • 3
    If I hear “(person or group) X is endorsing (product or business) Y”, I interpret it to mean that X either has a positive assessment of the intrinsics of Y (“I’ve tried it, it works, so I use it”) or is being compensated for making a statement.  I believe that this question is asking about commercial support for extrinsic reasons; e.g., I’m buying from Y because they divested from South Africa, or they treat their employees well, or whatever. – Scott Dec 12 '16 at 18:56
  • 5
    Has anyone said "patronize" yet? As in, "I suggest we begin patronizing the store everyone else has decided to boycott, in order to show solidarity." – Kevin H Dec 12 '16 at 23:04

12 Answers 12

24

Procott has been used, on both sides of the Atlantic:

Procott or boycott?

I quote at length only because it's relevant to the question:

Then there’s the procott. The opposite of a boycott, (according to a coordinating website that seems to have disappeared) a procott “is a movement to support the production and purchase of earth-friendly and justice-friendly goods and services.”

I first ran across the term in Utne Reader’s “Good Idea” contest in 2002. Instead of not buying products as a protest, procotts encourage people to buy products and services that help bring about good...

Something happened to the word procott; a web search finds almost nothing, just a few blog posts and a dog shampoo. It’s like someone sent out a “cease and desist”—the dog shampoo people!? Or maybe it just didn’t take. I like the term and we should use it. It’s the alternative to unconscious consuming. When we tune in to the effects of our buying power we help create a better world.

By "dog shampoo people" the author is referring to an actual product called Procott Dog Shampoo.

At any rate, one can find other uses of the term:

How they reached that conclusion and that having a “procott” (basically, the opposite of a boycott where everyone buys a certain product on a certain day) was, to put it gently, unscientific at best, but there was definitely heart behind their ideas!

(Tuxedo Unmasked)

Don't boycott – procott instead.

(The Guardian)

I'm not sure if pro is used as in the opposite of con but one could make the case it's taken from the word promote, which contains the idea of 'providing additional support':

1 Support or actively encourage (a cause, venture, etc.); further the progress of:
‘Do you promote recycling as a form of responsible waste disposal?’

1.1 Give publicity to (a product, organization, or venture) so as to increase sales or public awareness:
‘they are using famous personalities to promote the library nationally’

(promote, Oxford dictionary)

As such this word provides an alternative.

  • So you "procott a company! Is there evidence of usage of that expression? – user66974 Dec 12 '16 at 16:23
  • 1
    'procott' has the nice zing too (have you ever used dog shampoo? it's like your scalp is having a party!) but I'm not sure if people would recognize it. We should really procott the use of the word. – Mitch Dec 12 '16 at 17:16
  • 2
    In context, I think that even if the word was previously unknown to a reader, they would easily understand the meaning as being the opposite of boycott. That's one of the good things about the English language. Adaptability. – gmiley Dec 12 '16 at 19:38
  • 1
    @gmiley - I really doubt "procott" would be easily and intuitively understood as the antonym of boycott. "Buycott" is by far a smarter choice. – user66974 Dec 12 '16 at 22:53
  • 2
    @JOSH: Note that while the actual act is important only to the business itself, the social value of it lies in making your intentions to buy or not buy -- and the reasons behind your decision -- publicly known. For the purposes of this kind of word-of-mouth advertising, "procott" is much better than "buycott" because it is less easily confused with "boycott", both verbally and in print. – Dave Tweed Dec 12 '16 at 23:18
25

A fairly new term is "Cash Mob," a play on the "Flash Mob" form of performance art, but with a purposeful and economic slant.

Unfortunately I don't have good sources for this, only Wikipedia:

A cash mob is a group of people who assemble at a local business to make purchases. The purpose of these mobs is to support both the local businesses and the overall community. They may also serve a secondary purpose in providing social opportunities... The cash mob is related to the carrotmob, which supports companies for ethical, mainly pro-environmental actions.

"Carrotmob" appears to be an actual non-profit organization that calls their actions "buycotts," which apparently is interchangeable with "anti-boycott."

It uses buycotts (a form of consumer activism where a community buys a lot of goods from one company in a small time period) to reward a business's commitment to making socially responsible changes to the business. Carrotmob also refers to a global movement[2] of community organizers who use the Carrotmob tactic of consumer activism as a way to help change businesses in their communities.

Edit: As Mari-LouA mentions in the comments, the definition for carrot mob can be found in the MacMillan Dictionary and has added depth when juxtaposed with the idiom "carrot or stick," an approach of coaxing behavior using incentives and/or punishment.

Cash mobs don't seem to require ethical actions by a corporation, but rather a consensus to support a corporation for any reason whatsoever.

So be it a buycott, anti-boycott, cash mob, or Carrotmob, they all strive to reward companies that have positive impacts on the communities they serve.

Carrotmob seems to be the best antonym of boycott due to the requirement of ethical corporate actions, with cash mob being a broad show of support for a company or its employees, and buycott/anti-boycott being the concurrent opposition to a boycott depending on which Wikipedia page you read.

18

You could patronise a shop or company, though I don't believe that works for a product.

to give (a store, restaurant, hotel, etc.) one's regular patronage; trade with.

  • 5
    'patronise' sounds so ... patronising. I think though that this would work, it's not necessary for it to entail limitation to a single product (i.e. one could patronize Hostess for their wonderful Twinkies) – Mitch Dec 12 '16 at 17:12
  • 1
    FWIW, I agree that this could work, if you look at all the definitions of the word, but sounds wrong because of the first definition (Cambridge English Dictionary: disapproving; to treat others in a manner that shows you consider yourself to be better or more important than they are; Oxford Dictionaries: (often as adjective patronizing) Treat with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority). – Scott Dec 12 '16 at 18:52
  • 1
    @Scott - I agree with you to some extent. The meaning you've quoted is certainly the more common usage of the word, but I would expect most native speakers (Br. ones anyway, I have no idea about Am. ones) to also be familiar with the usage relevant to this question, and to be able to use context to disambiguate. – AndyT Dec 13 '16 at 11:48
  • This is actually exactly the answer the OP looks for - connotations with 'patronise' notwithstanding (where I agree it leaves a bit sour taste) - so I personally would go for that one. – AcePL Dec 13 '16 at 17:35
  • @AcePL not exactly what I'm looking for because it misses the intention, to reward for good action. A good suggestion, but doesn't hit all the criteria (which just may not be possible with existing words). – Mitch Dec 14 '16 at 14:07
10

The first word that comes to mind is advocacy:

Public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy

It seems the closest antonym of boycott and to advocate could work as an antonym of to boycott:

to publicly recommend or support

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

To endorse could also work in 2a definition of Merrian-Webster:

to approve openly ; especially : to express support or approval of publicly and definitely

  • 1
    They are all correct, but too general, like support or promote. – user66974 Dec 12 '16 at 16:25
  • Not sure I like "advocate" much, but "endorse" works for me. – AndyT Dec 13 '16 at 11:56
7

The best term, is the most obvious one; discarded unfairly by the OP because it is polysemous, and consequently overly broad. But it was precisely that one he used in the following line,

providing additional support […] to a business that does good things,

Isn't “support local businesses” clear and self-explanatory?

enter image description here enter image description here

The best suggested alternatives (i.e most upvoted) either sound unintentionally aggresssive, ambiguous, or bemusing.

Please cashmob / buycott/ procott local businesses

Maybe, at a pinch, the procott slogan above might work, but see how well support works in the next message.

We appreciate your support

  • 1
    Polysemy is exactly the problem. If I want a word for an animal that is gray, has legs like trees, and a prehensile trunk, 'animal' is not the right word. – Mitch Dec 13 '16 at 23:56
  • 7
    @Mitch no one is pressuring you to accept this answer. But I think I am allowed to disagree with your reasoning, and I also provided strong support, erm... supporting evidence. Ha! – Mari-Lou A Dec 13 '16 at 23:58
  • Support fits totally, and it was the first term that came to my mind. To have even more supp.., ehm arguments in favour ; )) – moonwave99 Dec 14 '16 at 19:54
6

As an idiom "putting your money where your mouth is" refers to taking a meaningful action (vs talk) as a means of support, not necessarily a literal financial one, per se, but it derives the force of its meaning that the latter is an undeniable example of the former, so it fits well when both occur.

'Instead of merely bemoaning the loss of independent shops, villagers are putting their money where their mouth is by doing their weekly shop at the village store, rather than drive to their local supermarket.'

  • In other words, "talk is cheap", while spending actual cash shows real commitment! – Dave Tweed Dec 12 '16 at 23:09
  • Note that this could just as easily work for a punitive redirection of cash (a boycott) as for the meaning of the term I'm seeking – Mitch Dec 13 '16 at 14:28
  • @Mitch for the figurative sense of "money" yes, but not for the literal sense: removing money (boycotting) is not the same as putting money. Of course most people don't create money, so adding money somewhere implied removing money somewhere else, but still. – Nemo Dec 13 '16 at 21:26
  • @Nemo You can put your money somewhere you like or away from something you don't like. – Mitch Dec 13 '16 at 23:52
2

The standard term is ethical consumerism, or critical consumerism, political and so on.

The adjectives can be also applied to other nouns as appropriate, for instance ethical investing or ethical purchases.

In the general case it's apt to keep using the word "consumerism" (as in consumer movement), since the "reverse boycott" is based on the premise that people can group and act around their being "consumers", i.e. for what they buy.

  • I said "consumerism" given the question mentions shops, but if the diverted money is invested money then it would be ethical/critical/political investing and so on. Often there is an overlap between consumer associations/groups and ethical investing groups, but not always. – Nemo Dec 13 '16 at 21:28
  • A boycott is also, presumably, ethical. This doesn't distinguish the two. – Mitch Dec 13 '16 at 23:54
  • @Mitch not necessarily, a boycott can be done for opportunistic reasons which is not what you mentioned. If more precision is needed, you can say "ethical purchase". – Nemo Dec 14 '16 at 7:22
1

There are some existing terms that are related to what you described, but I"m not sure how to reference them. See if any of them are useful:

Socially Responsible Shopping, Investments and Tourism

Eco-Friendly Shopping

Shopping Green

Environmental Shopping

1

The word and phrase that follow seem, of course to the person suggesting them, quite appropriate:

embrace (Cambridge Online Dictionary)

to accept something enthusiastically

embrace (Merriam Webster Online)

to take up especially readily or gladly

embrace a cause


Participate enthusiastically

participate (Merriam Webster Online)

to take part

always participates in class discussions


participate
(Cambridge Online Dictionary)

to take part in or become involved in an activity

0

The most natural thing that comes to mind is

reverse boycott

which could mean the reverse of a boycott, rewarding rather than punishing. I say 'could' because there is no evidence that this term has ever been used this way (or ever been used at all). Also, the intended semantics is questionable. It could mean just as easily for a company to stop marketing to a group of customers it doesn't like, like say a toilet paper company deciding not to sell to Halloween revelers.

  • Any comments on this one? I have a hard time sensing its true reception. – Mitch Dec 15 '16 at 21:53
0

Here are the suggestions with my commentary/analysis/personal opinion. They split into roughly two groups, existing English terms or neologisms (either recent or out of whole cloth)

Existing terms:

  • support - the first idea that comes to mind for most. too general and bland
  • patronize - more specific than support but still too general
  • reverse boycott - should be understood immediately in context, two words (isn't one word always the best?)
  • endorse - similar, also has other meanings associated with politicians and signing checks
  • embrace - loosely metaphorically connected but doesn't capture a lot of the nuances and has other nuances (not really about consumption)
  • advocate - more about supporting something by appeal rather than by action or money
  • participate - a very loose general connection (in that both 'boycott' and its reverse involve participation or lack thereof somehow)

Of these 'reverse boycott' is the only one that means exactly what is requested. All the others are not specific to the situation. "I am patronizing Nabisco" does not imply that you started doing that because the Nabisco company is doing something you like (having nothing to do with their delicious products).

Neologisms:

  • buycott - exactly right (can't be anything else). I feel that it could be taken as an eggcorn of boycott. not an existing dictionary word, but some evidence in the wild that it is used.
  • procott - exactly right but may not be understood without having 'boycott' in the same context, i.e. may need to be explained. no evidence already used. Would need repetition to catch on.
  • unboycott - like Sprite, the Uncola, you get the idea right away.
  • antiboycott - already used for things that prevent boycotts, like antiboycott laws. could be repurposed for here, but that would mess up the existing meaning
  • cashmob - obvious recent neologism, has the more specific meaning of it being a very short lived event, doesn't evoke good will
  • carrotmob - made-up word, exact by fiat, too cute, too evocative of carrots as opposed to good will. also implies an ephemeral situation.
  • Land League - this hits all the desiderata dead on (positive version of a boycott, is from the same historical situation as 'boycott', etymology is by metonymy)...except I've never heard of it and it doesn't tell you its meaning.
  • girlcott - haha. except what could that possibly mean?
  • ttoycob - the reverse of the letters of the word. The first attempt at humor of the puerile. Are there any real world examples where this ever works?

Neologisms are always problematic. They sound weird ("That isn't a word!") and their meaning is often underspecified or too variable or needs to be explained.

All these suggestions need some context or explanation (unlike the original 'boycott') to either prime the listener for the situation or explain entirely.

But my analysis leads me to the following:

  • The one that should be right? 'land-league-ing' because that was the name of the alternate to Mr. Boycott where this all originated.

  • The one I like the best? I'm torn between the most meaningful neologisms 'buycott' and 'procott'. As buycott has precedence (actual use), it might already have mindshare/traction and so likely to catch on further.

  • The one that I really expect to use in real life? 'reverse boycott'. It is immediately understandable without context, using words that people already understand. My mind doesn't trip over it when pronounced.

-1

A conventional translation of boycott to some opposite would be:

unboycott

which, in context, wouldn't just mean stopping a boycott, but going the other direction. This is similar to the ancient advertising slogan for Sprite, a clear lemon-lime softdrink, as the 'Uncola' to differentiate it from the prevailing dark colored Coca-Cola.

  • Is there any supporting evidence that shows "unboycott" is used in keeping a business, or any campaign, alive? Otherwise, unboycott just means to undo or reverse a sanction which was enforced as a form of punishment.. – Mari-Lou A Dec 14 '16 at 10:06
  • @Mari-LouA Yes, there is that distinct implication, that of undoing something rather than doing the opposite. There is no supporting evidence for a lot of these words, given that only few actually appear. This is treading dangerously in the neologism area, but then carrotmob and cashmob are already there. – Mitch Dec 14 '16 at 14:14

protected by tchrist Feb 10 '17 at 1:44

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.