Being a Democrat or Republican has become one of the defining features of most Americans’ self-concept. The level of political polarization among the public has been steadily rising within the last twenty-five years and reportedly reached a record high in 2020 (Heltzel & Laurin, 2020). Deliberately purchasing or avoiding goods or services due to political orientation has been identified in academia as “political consumerism”, but only a handful of studies have been published on this topic (Copeland & Boulianne, 2020; Jung et al., 2017; Matos et al., 2017). Therefore, further research on how political ideology affects day-to-day marketplace behavior should be conducted.
The proposed research will attempt to answer three important questions. As American society grows more polarized, political consumerism will become more widespread. The first question is why people choose to participate in political consumerism while others do not. Businesses need to understand consumer desires and why people buy their products to ensure further growth. The second question asks when political consumerism occurs more frequently. If it is more frequent during the period leading up to elections, for example, companies would be able to formulate a more effective marketing plan depending on the political timeline. Thirdly, what is the socio-demographic profile of individuals who engage in political consumerism most often? This information would be useful in developing a business’s ideal customer base and identifying the best strategy to appeal to it.
The best design for these questions is comparative qualitative research, given that the aim is to investigate the general circumstances under which the phenomenon of political consumerism occurs. While some data is available on the topic, it has not been well-studied. A comparison study of those who engage and do not engage in political consumerism will allow researchers to identify similarities and differences and understand what makes the phenomenon unique. The current questions are too vague with unknown variables for other research designs such as correlational or experimental. However, a qualitative comparative study would enable researchers to discern the reasons and principal actors involved in political consumerism.
Copeland, L., & Boulianne, S. (2020). Political consumerism: A meta-analysis. International Political Science Review, 43(1), 3-18.
Heltzel, G., & Laurin, K. (2020). Polarization in America: Two possible futures. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 34, 179-184.
Jung, K., Garbarino, E., Briley, D. A., & Wynhausen, J. (2017). Blue and red voices: Effects of political ideology on consumers’ complaining and disputing behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(3), 477-499.
Matos, G., Vinuales, G., & Sheinin, D. A. (2017). The power of politics in branding. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 25(2), 125-140.