Why should I be aware of what activists are saying about my company?
With companies from Arcadia to Amazon attracting the attention of activists recently, Robert Blood, founder of monitoring company Sigwatch, says retailers have become a core target for activists seeking to change corporate behaviour.
“Retail brands make very attractive targets for activists,” he says. “They are high profile, so the campaigns get more publicity by riding on the back of them.”
Stores can also be a key target. Blood says: “If the activist group has the resources or social network, stores make easy targets for disruptive protests that get the attention of the public and, more important, store management.”
Blood says retailers are now so attractive to activists that if they have a choice between targeting a high-profile retailer or a high-profile FMCG brand, the retailer will be hit first, and this can happen even if the FMCG brand is the target.
He says: “The retailer might be hit to get it to de-stock the FMCG brand, change policy on a house brand to set an example, or to agree to endorse the activist campaign and lobby the FMCG manufacturer.”
Blood advises tracking activist comment and upcoming campaigns to help anticipate future or emerging attacks, or predicting where and when a company is likely to be exposed.
He adds: “You want a satellite view of activist campaigns that can not only tell you what’s happening to you, but also to your competitors, here and in other markets.”