Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 51 / 18 December 2014
 

LGBT survey results show Stoli has reason to worry about boycott

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 3.04.12 PMA new survey of LGBT consumers shows that vodka brand Stolichnaya has reason to worry about the boycott of its products due to anti-gay Russian laws.

Done by gay-owned Community Marketing, Inc., a gay and lesbian marketing research firm that is based in San Francisco, the annual survey asked respondents to write from memory the name of a brand they were currently boycotting.

Seventy-five percent of those who answered the question wrote down fried chicken fast food outlet Chick-fil-A. Among the 6,050 gay and bisexual men who answered, the number who said they were avoiding the Atlanta-based chain was 76 percent; among the 2,150 lesbians who filled out the question it was 73 percent.

The company found itself the focus of a boycott last year by LGBT people due to its funneling profits to anti-gay groups and homophobic comments by CEO Dan Cathy, who warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would bring God’s wrath.

“The Chick-fil-A numbers are remarkable. We’ve never had a company poll this poorly ever, so it is really interesting,” David Paisley, CMI’s senior research director, told participants on a conference call this week held to discuss the findings in the 7th Annual LGBT Community Survey, which was released in August.

It is conceivable that Stolichnaya will be at the top of the list in the 2014 survey, as the European company that owns the spirit brand has been the focus this summer of a national boycott effort focused on Russian vodka brands due to several anti-gay laws adopted by Russia.

SPI Group, Stoli’s parent company, is based in Luxembourg and bottles Stoli in Latvia. But it buys grain alcohol from Russia, and until 2010, had marketed the vodka as being Russian.

The company has waged a public relations counter offensive against the boycott calls, pointing out its ownership information and stressing its support of LGBT rights. In July it posted on its website an open letter from CEO Val Mendeleev to the LGBT community that decried “the recent dreadful actions taken by the Russian Government.”

Paisley suggested such steps could work in the company’s favor, as he noted that the number of LGBT consumers who said they avoid shopping at Walmart was 50 percent less this year than in the 2012 survey.

“They are having an impact in the LGBT community with their work last year,” said Paisley.

The Arkansas-based retailer last November for the first time publicly disclosed its resource group for LGBT employees and noted that the company’s e-commerce headquarters in San Bruno, south of San Francisco, held a “Coming Out” event.

More recently it announced it would offer benefits to the same-sex partners of its LGBT employees.

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 12, 2013 @ 4:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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