Is this Store Liberal (Un)like me?: Consumer Response to COVID-19 Policies in a Politically Polarized World

56 Pages Posted: 16 May 2022

See all articles by Isabella Bunosso

Isabella Bunosso

The Ohio State University - Fisher College of Business

Grant E. Donnelly

Ohio State University (OSU)

Selin A. Malkoc

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

Date Written: May 1, 2022

Abstract

We examine how, why and which consumers infer company mask policies to be politically motivated, impacting their purchase interest. Five studies (N = 3,438) demonstrate that consumers use a company’s mask policy as a proxy for its underlying political ideology but interpret the political intent behind these policies based on their own political ideology: conservatives believe mask policies are political, while liberals interpret their absence as political. We find that mask policies are preferred over no policy, but recommended mask policies are more palatable than mask requirements. However, mask recommendations fail to garner compliance from conservatives. A government mandate to require masks can balance both company and public health goals by moving the blame conservatives assign for the policy from the company to the government, resulting in the most ideal outcome for business and public health.

Keywords: COVID policies, mask policy, government mandate, consumer response, political ideology

JEL Classification: E21, Z18, I12,I18, M30, M31, M38

Suggested Citation

Bunosso, Isabella and Donnelly, Grant E. and Malkoc, Selin A., Is this Store Liberal (Un)like me?: Consumer Response to COVID-19 Policies in a Politically Polarized World (May 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4106797 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4106797

Isabella Bunosso (Contact Author)

The Ohio State University - Fisher College of Business ( email )

506 Fisher Hall
2100 Neil Ave.
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Grant E. Donnelly

Ohio State University (OSU) ( email )

Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Selin A. Malkoc

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University ( email )

2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1144
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://fisher.osu.edu/people/malkoc.5

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