Company executives need to be aware of three critical factors when it comes how consumer boycotts may play out, says new international research on the subject.

Writing for the Canadian-based Network for Business Sustainability, an organisation of global academic experts and business leaders aiming to improve the sustainability of business, Professor N. Craig Smith of Insead Business School notes that one of the key lessons from the research is that “any boycott, no matter how illogically conceived or badly executed, can wreak long-term havoc on a company’s reputation – even if it does not hit short-term sales”.

Smith says the following are the key factors company executives must be aware of when facing consumer boycotts.

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A four-month public campaign headed by environmental group Greenpeace has led to Lego, the international toy brand, ending a lucrative deal with the Shell oil company.

The two organisations have business ties dating back to the 1960s and, in 2011, signed an agreement whereby co-branded Lego toys are sold at filling stations in 26 countries. The deal is reported by Britain’s ‘The Guardian’ newspaper to be worth around $US109-million.

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