Nike Stock Benefits From Consumer Activism in Wake of “Just Do It” Campaign

Nike Stock Benefits From Consumer Activism in Wake of “Just Do It” Campaign

Consumer activism is becoming more prevalent, and some of the largest companies in the world are leveraging the concept to engage consumers. And you’ll find no better example than Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick became a household name in 2016 after his controversial decision to take a knee during the U.S. national anthem in protest of discrimination and abuse against African Americans in North America. Not only did the event go viral — it also caught fire. In the following months, many players, officials and even coaches joined Kaepernick, either by kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem.

During Nike’s recent “Just Do It” campaign, the company unveiled an advertisement featuring Kaepernick’s face, with the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Once again, Kaepernick found himself at the eye of a viral media phenomenon.

Regardless of how you feel about Kaepernick’s views, you can’t knock results.

Nike’s stock initially dipped due to a backlash from fans who were offended by his actions, but after a few days, the campaign’s positive messaging resonated with consumers, who proceeded to bump Nike’s online sales up by 27 percent. On September 14, Nike’s stock closed at 83.49, their highest close ever and a four percent increase over stock value just before the campaign launched. At one point during the day, it was as high as 83.90.

Voting With Your Wallet: Lessons From Nike & Colin Kaepernick

While Nike’s success story isn’t a new one — and any global company understands the benefits of a positive brand image — the event serves as a powerful demonstration of buycotting.

Consumer activism is rising. Many feel more empowered as consumers than as voters, and demonstrate this by purchasing products from companies whose business practices resonate with them. This is commonly referred to as buycotting: the act of showing support for a company’s actions by intentionally buying its brands, products or services.

Consumer activist events such as mass buycotts can emerge overnight, and are catching on fast. According to research from Weber Shandwick, 60 percent of consumers have taken some form of positive or negative action in response to a brand’s activities. According to the study, “buycotts are on the rise and appear to be gaining momentum to overtake the prevalence of boycotts.”

The three central ideas of the report are:

  • Consumers feel it’s more important to show support for a brand’s actions than to participate in boycotts.
  • Activists who buycott tend to be younger than the average consumer.
  • Buycotters are becoming more active and participating in more activist events.

Another study found that “87 percent of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about,” and a further “76 percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.”

How to Respond

Brands should look for opportunities to align their business practices with the ideals valued by their customers. This can help you avoid boycotts and leverage the growth of the buycotting community. An effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is a precursor to cultivating customers as willing and active brand ambassadors. This can be done by addressing the sustainability issues that are important and relevant to your company.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all method of creating a CSR program, there are some best practices you can observe to ensure your CSR due diligence activities meet stakeholder expectations and sets the foundation for a positive consumer activism event.

For more information about how to develop an effective CSR due diligence strategy, download our guide “Jump Start Your Supply Chain CSR Program: A Guide for the Busy Compliance Officer.” If you’re ready to talk about how we can help strengthen your CSR program, contact us at