Brands and Politics

Goals

To understand whether aligning with or against a political ideology has any effect on customer demographics and revenues.

Early Findings

  • One popular example of a company mixing politics and business is Penzeys Spices, an open critic of the Trump administration. The company frequently runs promotions based on opposing general conservative policies and Trump's actions. Shortly following the CEO's initial declaration against Trump's election, they reported losing 3% of their customers but online revenues rose 60%.
  • The Washington Post found that millennials are more likely to support CEOs (and their companies) who take political stances. 2/3rds of survey respondents said they wanted companies to have a political stance. There is, however, a divide along political lines. Liberal-leaning consumers wants companies to be vocal on politics at a higher rate than conservatives.
  • Another survey found that women are more likely react strongly to brand political messages than men. Additionally, younger consumers also want political conversation with their brands, whereas the older generation (60+) wants politics out of their consumption decisions.
  • In 2017, Lyft denounced Trump's anti-immigration executive order, while its rival Uber took a much more mild stance. This led to Uber being inundated with customers deleting the app and being criticized publicly for lack of action.
  • After Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad, its stock rose 5% in three weeks. Kaepernick's defunct 49ers jersey continues to be a top seller for the brand.
  • However, if a brand is perceived as inauthentic with its political message, this can definitely backfire. A prime example is Pepsi's Kendall Jenner ad, which was quickly pulled after extreme criticism for its use of a privileged, white supermodel apparently endorsing social justice movements.
  • One case of a liberal political alignment having mixed results for a brand is when Dick's Sporting Goods announced it would stop selling assault rifles. The company's shares were down, though revenues were higher than expected. As Dick's typical customer was usually older, there is some speculation this move caused a slight shift to younger consumers.
  • Patagonia is well-known for substantially building its business (and revenue) through its prominent political strategy.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.

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