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Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

What Brands Transcend The Partisan Divide? - 2022 06 22 11 43 03

According to a new brand reputation ranking, certain grocery brands poll well among both Democrats and Republicans. This is, admittedly, an exception to the general rule--that top brands show a wide partisan shopping divide. (Axios)

NH: A couple of years ago, we wrote a NewsWire on the polarization of consumer culture. (See "Shopping Along the Partisan Divide.”) We noted that the red-blue brand divide was wide and getting wider.

But according to a new Axios/Harris poll on the reputations of the 100 most visible companies in America, some brands transcend the partisan divide. 

Democrats and Republicans both give a couple of grocery stores high reputation scores. Trader Joe's is the fourth most trusted brand by Democrats and the fifth most trusted by Republicans. H-E-B, a Texas and Mexico-based grocer, is the tenth most trusted by Dems and second most trusted by Reps.

Why the high scores? These are companies people visit every week and are rooted in local communities. And they're not known for taking political stances.  

What Brands Transcend The Partisan Divide? - June22

Perhaps the most surprising brand Democrats and Republicans agree on is Patagonia. The company is known for its left-leaning corporate culture. It often donates to environmental causes and has gone to war with the GOP.

In 2021, Patagonia stopped selling products at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort when the owner of the ski mountain held a fundraiser for the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Perhaps rural Republicans look past the company's politics because they know it makes quality outdoor gear.

A similar story might also be told for Hershey and Apple. While Hershey, a traditional Americana favorite, is a natural for red-zone families, its brand is so coveted by all kids that blue-zone parents have little choice but to go along.

Apple leans to the blue zone, but--like Patagonia--enough red zoners can't live without iPhones or MacBooks that they too salute the brand.

Of course, most brands still sort strongly by political affiliation. Republicans highly rank Chi-fil-A and Hobby Lobby. These are both brands known for their conservative values. Republicans also highly rate Tesla (TSLA), probably because Elon Musk recently became a conservative icon. (Tesla ranked fourth among Democrats in 2021 but fell to 47th in 2022.)

As for Democrats, they highly rank brands like Nike (NKE) and Pfizer (PFE). Nike is known for its liberal advertisements like the campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. And while Pfizer may represent Big Pharma, its popularity is probably linked to support for the Covid-19 vaccine. (See “Covid-19 Reveals Deep and Familiar Divides.”)

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ABOUT NEIL HOWE

Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.