Brand reputation can be a critical factor behind a person’s purchasing decisions, new research indicates.

According to a study by YouGov, 21 per cent of people have actively boycotted organisations if they have received bad press or been nvolved in a scandal.

A fifth of those who said they had boycotted a certain brand at least once did return eventually, although transacted with it on fewer occasions.

Meanwhile, only two per cent used the brand as frequently as they had done prior to their initial boycott.

However, three-quarters of those who said they had boycotted a certain brand on one or more occasions revealed they have never gone back.

The findings demonstrate the need for brands to portray a positive image over a wide range of issues, from how they handle their finances to how they deal with staff.

Indeed, 48 per cent of those who have shunned certain brands said they did so because they were concerned about tax evasion or avoidance.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent avoided some organisations because they felt they treated staff unfairly.

Product quality was another big concern for consumers, with 35 per cent boycotting organisations if they have been sold faulty items or been involved in a product recall.

Nasra Aharchich of YouGov Reports said: “While it is not as straightforward as saying that every time a brand is seen to misbehave it will lose customers, there is a distinct proportion of consumers who will vote with their wallets.”

However, brands who do find themselves on the end of bad publicity and shed customers can take some positive steps to turn the situation around.

For instance, 28 per cent of those who returned to a brand they had previously boycotted said they went back because it had changed its practices.

Meanwhile, 24 per cent said they were drawn back because a brand had improved the quality of its product or service.

Interestingly, 29 per cent abandoned their boycott because they felt it was too inconvenient, while 18 per cent admitted they had to use the company either in their personal or work life.

Fifth of consumers have boycotted a brand, research finds, Campaign