America’s Polarized Politics are Causing Potential Trouble for 20% Top Fortune 500 Consumer Brands
New Report from Engagement Labs Measures Relationship Between Political Affiliation and Consumer Sentiment for Fortune 500 Brands
NEW YORK, NY (AUGUST 17, 2023) – As Republican candidates take the stage for the first debate of the 2024 Presidential Election cycle, Engagement Labs unveils a new report that reveals the extent to which polarized politics in America are impacting major consumer brands, creating a new challenge for brand marketers eager to attract consumers across the political spectrum.
Based on consumer conversation data for nearly 500 brands, the report finds that consumer conversations relating to more than a fifth (23%) of brands are polarized between Republicans and Democrats. The new report is timely, coming in the wake of a politically controversial video featuring a trans influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, which provoked boycotts and outrage on social media. After Bud Light lost its first-place ranking in the beer market, the brand’s parent company, AB InBev, placed members of its marketing team on leave and revamped its marketing.
The Engagement Labs report, “Brand Marketing Amid Political Polarization,” draws on consumer conversation data collected by the company's award-winning TotalSocial® platform that has been shown to be a powerful driver of consumer purchases.
Among the key findings, the study reports that, over the last two years, many brands earn equal sentiment among Republicans and Democrats, including Coca-Cola, which has a highly positive net sentiment score of 64 among both Republicans and Democrats, meaning conversations are 64 points more positive than negative for Coca-Cola. Other brands earning equal scores among Democrats and Republicans include Lay’s Chips (+73), Chipotle (+62), Chevrolet (+48), and Gucci (+33).
However, conversations are politically polarized for about 23% of major brands. These include DiGiorno, Vanguard, and Moderna that are much more positive among Democrats than Republicans, and Olive Garden, Holiday Inn, and Fox News that are much more positive among Republicans than Democrats. The study provides a depth and breadth of data across many other key demographics, media usage and lifestyle categories providing compelling cross sections of insight.
Brands Experiencing Political Polarization
As the 2024 United States Presidential campaign progresses, understanding the risks and opportunities posed by political polarization has become more crucial than ever for brand marketers. This study sheds light on how political beliefs influence consumer conversations and the potential implications for brand reputation and sales.
Some of the biggest differences are found for brands that have been drawn into major political debates, such as the brands behind the biggest COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, which Democrats talk about much more positively than Republicans. But it is not immediately apparent why the restaurant chains Olive Garden and Red Lobster, Holiday Inn, and the consumer brands Jif Peanut Butter and Swiffer would be more positively discussed among Republicans than Democrats. Conversely, it is not clear why DiGiorno pizza and Vanguard investments would be more recommended by Democrats than Republicans.
The report helps to answer some of the reasons behind these differences. As it turns out, Vanguard investments has been penalized among Republicans for its association with ESG: the trend toward considering environmental, social, and governance issues in investments. Meantime, Olive Garden has been talked about positively by Fox News hosts, leading to positive sentiment for the brand among Republicans.
Disney Appears to Weather Political Storm
A prominent example of political polarization is the Disney brand, which recently has become a target of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a candidate for President running in the Republican primary. Over the last two years, the net sentiment is 67 for Democrats and 59 for Republicans, a modest difference of 8 points. But since late 2022, when the governor’s disagreements with Disney went public, sentiment has been declining among Republicans while rising slightly for Democrats.
Yet even despite increased political polarization for the Disney brand, sentiment remains strongly positive among partisans on both sides, suggesting the brand has weathered the crisis relatively well.
Source: Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial, July 2021 – June 2023
The charts below reveal 40 of the brands with the largest gaps between Republicans and Democrats. The full report includes data for nearly 500 brands.
The full report, “Brand Marketing Amid Political Polarization” is available for download at https://go.engagementlabs.com/en-us/brands-amid-political-polarization. To learn more about Engagement Labs and how to increase your brand’s word of mouth in real life and online, reach out at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/-engagementlabs. #totalsocial
About Engagement Labs
Engagement Labs is an industry-leading data and analytics firm that provides social intelligence for Fortune 500 brands and companies. The Company’s patented TotalSocial® platform focuses on the entire social ecosystem by combining powerful online (social media) and offline (word of mouth) data with predictive analytics. Engagement Labs has a proprietary ten-year database of unique brand, industry and competitive intelligence, matched with its cutting-edge predictive analytics that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to reveal the social metrics that increase marketing ROI and top line revenue for its diverse group of clients. To learn more visit www.engagementlabs.com / www.totalsocial.com.
About The Study
Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial platform measures online and offline conversations for leading brands. For this report, “Brand Marketing Amid Political Polarization,” analysts focused on the offline conversations of consumers aged 18 to 69. Brand conversations examined have a minimum base of 50 or higher; with an average base size of 269. Net sentiment is calculated by subtracting negative and mixed conversations from positive ones. The higher the score the more positive the conversations. Additional details can be requested at email@example.com.
For media inquiries please contact:
Vanessa Lontoc, VP of Marketing and Sales Operations