Polarized America: From Political Partisanship to Preference Partisanship

34 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2019 Last revised: 26 Apr 2023

See all articles by Verena Schoenmueller

Verena Schoenmueller

ESADE Business School

Oded Netzer

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Marketing

Florian Stahl

Mannheim Business School

Date Written: April 1, 2022

Abstract

In light of the widely discussed political divide and increasing societal polarization, we investigate in this paper whether the polarization of political ideology extends to consumers’ preferences, intentions, and purchases. Using three different datasets—publicly available social media data of over three million brand followerships of Twitter users, a YouGov brand-preference survey dataset, and Nielsen Scanner Panel data—we assess the evolution of brand-preference polarization. We find that the apparent polarization in political ideologies after the election of Donald Trump in 2016 stretches further to the daily lives of consumers. We observe increased polarization in preferences, behavioral intentions, and actual purchase decisions for consumer brands. Consistent with compensatory consumption theory, we find that the increase in polarization following the election of Donald Trump was stronger for liberals relative to conservatives; and that this asymmetric polarization is driven by consumers’ demand for “Democratic brands” rather than the supply of such brands. From a brand perspective, there is evidence that brands that took a political stance became even more polarized. We provide a publicly available API that allows access to the unique Twitter-based brand political affiliation scores.

Keywords: Political Marketing, Social Media, Data Mining, Political Polarization, Branding

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

Schoenmueller, Verena and Netzer, Oded and Stahl, Florian, Polarized America: From Political Partisanship to Preference Partisanship (April 1, 2022). Marketing Science Frontiers Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3471477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3471477

Verena Schoenmueller (Contact Author)

ESADE Business School ( email )

Barcelona
Spain
20136 (Fax)

Oded Netzer

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Florian Stahl

Mannheim Business School ( email )

L 5, 2
Mannheim, 68131
Germany
+496211811563 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://quantmarketing.bwl.uni-mannheim.de/

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