The Loh Down On Science

How we reveal our politics at the supermarket

Does your grocery shopping reveal your politics?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Studies show that people who identify as politically conservative tend to value certain qualities, such as tradition and order.

People who identify as politically liberal value others, like: trying new things and change 

That got marketing professor Vishal Singh of New York University thinking. Do these deep-rooted values affect our buying habits?

He decided to examine what marketing experts call “low-involvement" buying decisions. Not stuff we buy to make a statement, like tech gear. But mundane purchases that no one sees. Think: toothpaste, or soup.

Singh analyzed sales data from more than 1,800 supermarkets across the US. He also analyzed county-level voting and religious data. That revealed each county’s political leanings.

He compared the two results. And? Brand-name products sell best in conservative counties. New and generic products sell best in liberal counties.

Singh says this shows the political aisle and the supermarket aisle aren’t so different.

One's just a bit harder to reach across.

 

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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