Political Consumerism: Ideology or Signaling?

43 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2024

See all articles by Young Hou

Young Hou

University of Virginia

Christopher Poliquin

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Date Written: February 6, 2024


Firms and their executives taking stances on controversial social and political issues such as gun control have been found to affect consumer behavior. This “political consumerism” might be driven by personal ideology or a desire to signal to peers. We run an experiment on 1,198 respondents who know each other to study how ideology and signaling affect a real purchase decision when a CEO engages in activism on gun control. Participants are randomly assigned to see either generic information about a product or the same information plus a CEO statement supporting gun rights. They then make a choice about whether to receive the product or a bonus payment, with half assigned to a public purchase condition in which their choice is observable to someone they know. We find that CEO support for gun rights reduces demand among people who favor stricter gun control laws. This effect does not vary significantly across the private and public purchase conditions, suggesting that personal ideology is a sufficient motive for political consumerism and that CEO activism can impel boycotts even for products whose consumption is not observable to others.

Keywords: political consumerism, CEO activism, partisan, consumer ideology, signaling

JEL Classification: D12, M31, M14

Suggested Citation

Hou, Young and Poliquin, Christopher, Political Consumerism: Ideology or Signaling? (February 6, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4718887 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4718887

Young Hou

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Christopher Poliquin (Contact Author)

UCLA Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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