Is this Store Liberal (Un)like me?: Consumer Response to COVID-19 Policies in a Politically Polarized World
56 Pages Posted: 16 May 2022
Date Written: May 1, 2022
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: Suggested Citation