Marketing and Political Polarization: What Does It Mean for Consumers?

  • By Niki Gianakaris
People divided by yellow line

As the nation’s political divide continues to widen, companies that have traditionally confined themselves to neutral positions are becoming increasingly outspoken. In many cases these companies are taking political stands for or against elected officials or government policies on the grounds that they have a responsibility to society at large. So what does this mean for the future of marketing and how companies appeal to consumers?

According to Daniel Korschun, PhD, associate professor of marketing in the LeBow College of Business, who has focused his research on corporate political activism, taking a stand can benefit companies. “It can really drive loyalty on the part of consumers,” he said. “Consumers are purchasing more than the product, they’re purchasing an affirmation of who they are and what they stand for.”

Korschun recently co-authored an editorial for the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing that looked at the role of marketing in understanding political activity. The piece looked at how the political world is increasingly encroaching on the business world.

According to the authors, this new reality can result in surprising dialogues between political actors (elected officials, community organizers, political pollsters) and companies, oftentimes involving ordinary citizens as well. To better understand things, the authors went back to the very definition of marketing and how the discipline is concerned with how individuals and institutions perceive and exchange values that impact a number of stakeholders. They provided a framework for understanding marketing and political activity.

“Marketing is concerned with how values are communicated and delivered to people, and that makes it a powerful perspective when it comes to understanding why and how political messages are becoming more common in the business world,” said Korschun.

Read more of Korschun’s interview on the Drexel News Blog.

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