10/06/2024 01:47 PM

By Abdul Hamid A Rahman

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 (Bernama) -- In a free market economy, boycotting is recognised as a legitimate form of protest but it carries potential repercussions, especially on communities, livelihoods, and the economy at large. 

Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said boycotts align with consumer activism, empowering consumers to have stronger bargaining power when they act collectively. 

“There is potential to explore the benefits arising from boycotts as they raise awareness among consumers about their influence, particularly concerning prices, types of goods and services, quality and the overall impact of organisations on society, both domestically and globally,” he told Bernama.

He noted that the proliferation of boycotts has highlighted the significant role consumers can play in influencing the market. 

“Often, consumers have been at a disadvantage, typically accepting prices set by businesses without question. Companies often cite various reasons for price increases, but consumers are rarely informed about these details,” he added.

Meanwhile, Professor Tan Peck Leong, a senior lecturer at Universiti Teknologi MARA's (UiTM) Arshad Ayub Graduate Business School (AAGBS), stated that while short-term gains from boycotting might appear as victories, the long-term outcomes remain uncertain. 

“It’s important to acknowledge the extraordinary resilience of businesses in facing challenges. This adaptability highlights the dynamic nature of commerce, where survival often depends on swift adjustments to current circumstances,” he said.

The senior lecturer added that boycotting yields limited benefits because businesses are among the most adaptable entities in the world. 

“They are highly resilient and capable of overcoming challenges to survive. This adaptability is a defining trait of business people,” he said.

He further explained that the immediate impacts of boycotts are often most keenly felt by the most vulnerable in society, particularly low-income workers and their families. 

“For instance, the recent closure of 100 KFC restaurants left approximately 1,000 employees jobless, sending shockwaves through communities. The human cost of such actions is significant, disrupting livelihoods and economic stability. 

“These events highlight the interconnected nature of our economy, where decisions made in boardrooms have far-reaching effects on households,” he noted.

He suggested that the long-term solution to boycotts is to diminish the influence of firms that do not align with our values by fostering innovation and elevating the quality of our products and services to global standards.

“Malaysians must embrace innovation and elevate their products and services to global standards. By doing so, Malaysia can gain influence on the world stage, compelling organisations and firms to adhere to our ethos and standards,” he said.

He said that by cultivating a culture of innovation and excellence, both businesses and consumers can drive positive change without resorting to adversarial methods.

“Let’s aim for self-improvement to become competitive enough to provide alternatives and achieve the changes we seek,” he concluded.


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