The company I work for produces and sells products for women to a broader audience. All the products they sell can be easily found in most stores throughout the world.

When I joined the company, I understood that you need to have some sort of corporate spirit to fit in, which I have. I thought I was doing well :

  • Not talking negatively about my brand's products, about the company's employees, its processes

  • Being involved in community events

  • Using some of their products

  • Being a brand ambassador by promoting products and actions of my brand to my relatives when I think they are good products

Until one day during my lunch break, I came back to work with a bag that contained products from a small competitor of my company. Some of my colleagues started to stare at me as if I had done the unforgivable, some of them commented the fact I was not corporate enough. I agree it may have not been the best move to get those products when I was at work, but their remarks at the moment appeared a bit strong.

I wonder to what extent you must promote and support your company? Should you solely purchase products from your company? Does the company expect you to be solely focused on what they produce?

EDIT OF OCTOBER 14 : It is a cosmetics company.

  • 2
    "I wonder to what extent you must promote and support your company" There is no one true answer, it will be different in each company. And this isn't realy what's commonly understood by "company culture". VTC unclear.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 10:27
  • 8
    is this a company or a cult? Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 12:43
  • 3
    I work for a video game company. It is not uncommon, at all to play the competitors games, during your lunch break or so. It's actually encouraged as it allows for a better knowledge of the market and what the competition do. Some people are even payed to play those all day long and study them. Also, if a competitor's game is really good and fun, you may want to learn things from it rather than pretend it doesn't exist. Seems to me like trying to hide the fact that competition is a real thing which of course, just can't work.
    – ereOn
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 13:04
  • 4
    @ereOn, Just wanted to point out that a smart company will ask you what was the advantage in the competitor's product that made you buy it! This can point out to fields for improvement!
    – AleX_
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 14:03
  • 3
    Contrary to what the close-voters have stated, this is not about company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies, or legal issues. It is about culture.
    – Resigned
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 16:29

4 Answers 4


When working for a producing company it is often seen as detrimental to favour a competitor's product while on the job even if you only wish for some variety. What you prefer in your freetime is something entirely different, that is and should be of no concern to the company.

That being said, appearance is important in the corporate game and outside of it. Imagine what effect it would have on the company if the manager/CEO openly favoured the competitors product in front of employees or customers. It could be interpreted as if there was no faith in the product with loss of morale in employees and customers openly questioning the quality of the product.

  • 1
    +1, as office politics is an important thing in a career. Unfortunately. You must look corporate, not only be corporate, in such a setting.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 12:29

This reminds me of when I worked for a union store. The union beat us over the head with "buy union made only" rhetoric. Frankly, it was no ones business what I bought, where I bought it from or anything else about my private finances. I would typically respond with "my money, my choice" in a super sweet voice or some other short snip. But, I'm a very direct person and don't worry about what others think of me in general. You may not need to take my direct attitude.

I might suggest laughing it off and say that the store was out of products made by your employer. Or, ignore the comments altogether, as it is your business what you purchase, not theirs. If you are further ostracized or poked at by the people who made those comments you may be in for a rough time for a bit.

Next time either buy the items and take them straight home, leave them in your vehicle or wait until you're shopping on your days off.

  • ... or if you have to bring them inside just put them in a non-branded opaque bag. No one needs to know what's inside your reusable Imagine Whirled Peas shopping bag. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:00

Businesses are like people. Many are rational and will accept that you can spend your money on whatever you like. Others are like jealous partners who can't tolerate the idea that competition even exists in the wider world.

One extreme example, reported on the BBC is this:

A firm in Henan province called the Nanyang Yongkang Medicine Company, that issued a notice to its workers telling them not to buy the iPhone 7 or Iphone 7 Plus. "If you break this rule, then just come to the office straight way to hand in your resignation," the notice read.

I'm not saying that you will be let go from your employer for buying a rival's products. I'm not even saying it is likely. But your colleagues have shown you that the company culture is to be 100% loyal to the brand and that is what you'll have to show to the business. You can still spend your salary on whatever you like. Just don't show it off at work.

As a side note I used to work for a company where the mascot was a cuddly sheep. In that place, criticising the sheep in any way was a career limiting move. Towing the line made the most sense in a mad company culture.

  • 1
    Obviously coming to the office and handing in your resignation would be utter stupidity in civilised countries, where getting fired for buying a specific phone would get the employer into court and paying.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:10

I knew of an auto manufacturer that would tow any car from the employee lot that was not their brand. That is, if the union thugs didn't damage it first.

This can be SERIOUS BUSINESS at some companies.

  • You serious ???
    – MopMop
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 12:50
  • @MopMop Yep. Work for a certain car company and park something in their lot that is not one of their cars and you'll find that very bad things happen. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 12:55
  • That's what dashboard cameras were invented for.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:11
  • There was a video of Steve Ballmer berating a Microsoft employee for daring to use an iPhone. Created a PR nightmare for Microsoft.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:13

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