How Politics Can Shape Our Grocery Shopping Behavior

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Although they wave the same American flag, Democrats and Republicans often hold clashing opinions on a seemingly infinite number of issues, such as immigration, health care reform, and global warming. Knowing someone’s political identity makes it easy to predict which side they’ll adopt in these debates. But can this information also be used to predict which products shoppers will buy at the grocery store?

 

To explore this idea, InfoScout identified over 3,000 panelists who agreed to share their data on the celebrities and public figures they follow on Facebook. Panelists who follow liberal pages like Hillary Clinton were coded as Democrats; Trump followers were coded Republican. Afterwards, we compared the purchase behavior of the Democrats and Republicans using our Household Affinity report. This tool helps us determine which brands and categories most strongly differentiate the two shopper groups.

 

Below, we summarized our findings according to which brands/categories are disproportionately bought by either Democrat and Republican households, as well as the magnitude of this effect (i.e. higher numbers represent greater political skew). Percentages were determined by calculating the relative ratios of Liberal and Conservative households purchasing a particular brand or category. Specifically, we divided the % of Liberals buying and the % of Conservatives buying, with the higher percentage in the numerator. The values can be interpreted as, “Liberals are 37% more likely to have purchased a Kashi product in the past year compared to Conservatives.”

 

The data suggest that progressive and traditional values extend not only to our political beliefs, but to our grocery baskets as well. Republican households tended to buy family-oriented brands (such as Malt-o-Meal and Capri Sun) as well as traditional American foods (like white bread and sugar cookies). By contrast, Democrats tended to over-index on products that are positioned as more healthful and organic, such as Kashi and kale. Democrats also skewed towards products that are more culturally diverse, like flatbread, jalapeños, and mangos.

 

Finally, we also found that the Altoid mints brand was among the top “bipartisan products”. In other words, Altoids are purchased at nearly identical rates between Democrats and Republicans. Perhaps the greatest lesson learned from this exercise is that true political cooperation may finally be achieved by focusing on what makes us similar rather than different from each other. This summer, consider reaching across the aisle and offering your fellow American a cool, refreshing mint.