Why Do Liberals Drink Lattes?
January 9, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
Are you a liberal? Did you find yourself buying more from brands that took a political stand, especially during the Trump presidency? You’re not alone.
Compensatory consumption theory says people buy as a way to compensate for psychological needs or deficits. In other words, if we feel like we’re lacking control or meaning in our lives, we might try to make up for it by buying stuff we think will give us those things.
What better way to buy than by supporting brands that align with your political views?
Researchers used three different datasets (Tweets, brand survey data and actual shopping scanner data) to find the Trump presidency correlated with (causal?) increased political polarization that spilled over into consumer purchasing and that this was a stronger effect for liberals than conservatives.
They were able to further attribute this to increased demand, not supply; meaning consumer demand drove the purchasing behavior change not the presence of more brands taking anti-Trump, activist stands.
There is evidence that the brands that did take a stand became even more polarized.
Two worthwhile takeaways here.
Buying product is not the only way one can flex their wallet to regain psychological control. Many charities take a stand as it’s core to their DNA – e.g. social justice groups. Others wade into it carefully. In either case there’s value in doing contrast advertising to creatively and playfully suggest to your conservative or liberal activists that they consider not buying yet another MyPillow or Patagonia fleece, respectively, to take reinforce their political beliefs.
The other takeaway is suggesting you take a few minutes on this addictive dataset (available here) with hundreds of consumer brands and charities showing the political party split.
Starbucks latte or Sheetz cold brew anyone?