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article imageOp-Ed: US Conservatives and liberals buy very different products

By Paul Wallis     Feb 28, 2013 in Politics
New York - A new and irritatingly interesting study has found that conservative and liberal buying habits are very different, almost polarized. The main dichotomy is that conservatives buy well established brands, while liberals are more adventurous.
In a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, Vishal Singh of New York University’s Stern School of Business and his colleagues apply an ever-growing body of research on the psychological traits of liberals and conservatives to their consumer choices. The result? A stark left-right difference when it comes to favoring well-established brands, like Coca-Cola or Tide.
This was a truly exhaustive study, including “416 U.S. counties — from 135 different supermarket chains and 1,860 individual stores over a six-year period”. The study also included 26 product categories, which is a very large sample base, including staples like coffee, and a range of discretionary consumer products. The result was a clear split in buying preferences.
You may wonder why anyone would go to such lengths to find information in terms of political preferences. Short answer: This is critical market information, and a huge finding. The client base for this sort of information is literally the entire consumer supply chain. A study like this is pure gold to the market.
It’s also good news for the big brands in many ways. While it’s not really all that surprising that people tend to default to name brands, this is a true predictor of market share in some ways. A Republican state will tend to be a better place to market name brands, according to this theory, where a Democrat market may be much more diversified.
The US consumer economy, even in its current hiatus hernia condition is far and away the biggest consumer market on Earth. So knowing where to place your products has a lot going for it. Knowing where not to waste your time in distribution is another money maker, saving costs and reducing risk in diversified markets.
At the rate the US economy is going, this could also be a good market analysis for a crash. When even the rich have to eat concrete, they’ll know which states will buy the Portland cement. When American housing embraces the new “rent a lentil” accommodation program, they’ll know which states and counties prefer GM lentils.
Although this study was largely focused on consumer goods, the tendency of conservatives to buy American brands is noticeable. This is hardly a fashion statement, particularly in terms of buying beers. Budweiser and Miller were preferred brands over imported beers. The theory is that with established brands you know exactly what you’re getting, like the famous “buy McDonalds in Paris” syndrome.
My long running campaign for the legalization of Americans (I’m a bit of a bastard, actually) is likely to hit a few hurdles with this insular behaviour. The chances of Americans with buying patterns being legalized are likely to diminish considerably. Although I’m only campaigning for the legalization of Americans for personal use (perhaps even their own personal use, eventually) the obvious question is whether they’ll realise these buying patterns give them a lot of clout.
Market buying power does create real influence. Americans could even start demanding lives to go with their buying patterns. They may even feel a need to insist on incomes to pay for the products they buy. Not likely, on past performance, admittedly, but there’s always that element of doubt, isn’t there?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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