Boycott or Buycott?: Internal Politics and Consumer Choices

Authors: Xavier Cuadras Morató and Josep M. Raya

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Vol. 16, No 1, 185-218, January, 2016

Does politics affect economic relations? In particular, do political tensions significantly affect consumer choices? The main objective of the paper is to study the consequences of political conflicts between Spain and Catalonia (a region of Spain) and the subsequent boycott calls on sales of Catalan sparkling wine (cava) in the Spanish market. We use data from sales of sparkling wine in supermarkets and similar outlets. To determine with precision the boycott period we use data on the number of news on the issue that appeared in the main national Spanish daily newspapers. The results of our econometric analysis indicate that the boycott calls triggered different consumers' reactions in different territories. While consumers in some Spanish regions followed them and reduced their purchases of Catalan cava, there was also an anti-boycott reaction of Catalan consumers which led them to increase their consumption of the product. As a consequence of this, the boycott calls had an insignificant impact at the Spanish aggregate level. These results can be rationalized by the predictions of theoretical models of boycotts that include both the free riding and animosity motives.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona GSE Working Paper 770