Republicans and Democrats love to argue over who cares more about small business, but, as it turns out, both parties are crazy for chains. Does this mean that the groups can unite to finally put all those neighborhood mom'n'pop joints out of business? Sort of, but they'll each have to do it in their own way, with conservatives sticking to purchasing big-name brands at Walmart while liberals pick up generic comestibles at the Hawaiian-themed line circus that is Trader Joe's.
While it may seem fairly obvious, new research conducted by NYU's Stern School of Business has determined that political affiliation, religious ideology and consumer habits are strongly linked:
"Our empirical results, based on extensive field data, provide strong evidence that more conservative ideology is associated with higher reliance on established national brands (as opposed to generics) and a slower uptake of new products."
"These tendencies are consistent with traits typically associated with conservatism, such as aversion to risk, skepticism about new experiences, and a general preference for tradition, convention, and the status quo."
So basically, conservatives stick to name brands like Tide, Kelloggs and Jif because they're afraid to be different, while wacky and wild liberals, always looking for adventure, subvert the norm by daring to try Trader Jose's toaster-oven enchiladas. Does this mean we can at least come together in the Fage greek yogurt aisle?
As for the study's method, researchers used a comprehensive database that tracks the sale of products in various counties across the U.S. and then compared the amount of generic products purchased and the amount of generic products purchased to the religious and political affiliations of the areas.
From the Pacific Standard:
The results: In 19 of the 26 categories, greater religiosity was strongly associated with a lower market share for generic products. (The association was also found in another six categories, but at a level below statistical significance.) "We found essentially the same pattern in the associations between Republican voting and generics," they write.
"Similarly," they add, "the market share of new products was significantly lower in counties with higher levels of religiosity and Republican voting. Taken together, our results provide strong evidence that more conservative markets are associated with a higher reliance on established national brands and a lower penetration of new products."
BUT WHO SHOPS AT ALDI?
Why Conservatives Prefer Walmart to Trader Joe's [Pacific Standard]