In our highly polarized climate, nearly every aspect of daily life can be considered an opportunity to make a statement about one’s views on political and social issues—including where we spend our money. But to the average American, how important are a company’s political leanings and views on issues like sustainability, diversity, and equity?
Digital.com surveyed 1,250 Americans ages 18 and older to gauge the influence of political and social issues on the purchasing process. Aside from the sentiments of the general population and political parties, our survey shows where demographics most diverge on each issue.
- 47% of Americans are unlikely to buy products or services from a company whose political leanings do not align with their own
- 45% of Americans are unlikely to patronize companies that don’t have a stated sustainability policy
- 40% are unlikely to patronize companies that don’t have published diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies
- Independent voters are most likely to take a company’s political leanings into account
- 29% of Americans consider a company’s stances on political and social issues because they want their money to have an impact beyond their purchase
47% of Americans unlikely to buy from companies whose political views don’t align with their own
Overall, forty-seven percent of Americans say they are unlikely to patronize a business with opposing political views.
Given these attitudes, businesses must be mindful about the statements they make and how they might be perceived by current and potential customers, according to digital marketing executive Huy Nguyen.
“Companies need to consider if their core values and brand strategy match what they wish to communicate on political or social issues,” Nguyen says. “Consumers value authenticity and are quick to call out companies that may take a stand to appropriate a cause without having existing practices to support it.”
Independent voters most likely to care about company’s political leanings
Forty-nine percent of independent voters, who don’t necessarily align with one of the country’s dominant political parties, are unlikely to patronize businesses with opposing political leanings.
Sentiment among Democrats and Republicans isn’t far behind. Forty-six percent of Democrats and 45% of Republicans say they are unlikely to purchase products or services from businesses that have political views that do not match their own.
When asked why they pay attention to a company’s political and social views, the plurality of Democrats (34%) and independent voters (28%) say it’s because they want their money to have an impact beyond their purchase. Meanwhile, 26% of Republicans say it’s because they don’t want their money supporting candidates or causes with whom they disagree.
53% of women say purchasing decisions are influenced by politics
A company’s political leanings are more likely to influence women than men. Fifty-three percent of women say they are unlikely to buy from a company with a different political view, compared to 38% of men.
Women are split on why a company’s political and social stances are meaningful to them. Twenty-nine percent say it is because they don’t want their money being funneled to causes or candidates they do not support, while another 29% want their money to have an impact beyond their purchase. This reason was also cited by 28% of men as to why they consider these factors when choosing which companies to patronize.
Boomers least likely to buy from companies with different political views
Baby Boomers and Millennials may not have a lot in common, but they both like voting with their wallets.
Fifty-two percent of people 55 and older, and 48% of people ages 25-34 aren’t likely to buy from a company with a different political alignment.
By comparison, 46% of 35-44 year-olds, 44% of 45-54 year-olds, and 41% of 18-24 year-olds feel the same way.
Excluding Americans ages 55 and older, the main reason respondents gave for considering a company’s political and social stances is that they want their money to have an impact beyond their purchase. The plurality of Baby Boomers (34%) don’t want their money going to support candidates or causes they oppose.
45% of Americans are unlikely to patronize companies that don’t have a stated sustainability policy
A slightly smaller percentage of U.S. shoppers, 45%, are unlikely to purchase products or services from companies that don’t have a stated sustainability policy.
Publishing a sustainability policy is a start, but according to Nguyen, companies should make sure they are practicing what they are preaching.
“Any business can create a sustainability policy and post it on their website, but in order for it to resonate well with their customers, they should look at their company ethos and core values to ensure that the statements are consistent with their commitment to sustainability,” Nguyen says. “Their sustainability policy should detail how they implement responsible practices throughout their manufacturing, product development, work environment, and company culture.”
55% of Gen Zers want to see a sustainability policy before making a purchase
Fifty-five percent of respondents ages 18-24 say they’re unlikely to buy from a company that doesn’t have a published sustainability policy. Among other age groups, the likelihood that they would not buy from a company without a stated sustainability policy ranges from 41% (25-34 year-olds) to 47% (45-54 year-olds).
Democrats most value sustainability policy
When looked at through the political lens, our survey found 49% of Democrats and 43% of independent voters are unlikely to buy from companies without sustainability policies, compared to 39% of Republicans.
Men and women agree on sustainability
Men and women are aligned in their feelings about the need for sustainability policies. Forty-nine percent of both genders say they are unlikely to patronize a business if they don’t have a stated sustainability policy.
4 in 10 U.S. consumers unlikely to support businesses without DEI policies
Lastly, our survey found that among all U.S. shoppers, 40% are unlikely to buy from businesses without stated DEI policies.
Similarly to sustainability policies, Nguyen says that simply creating and publishing DEI policies isn’t enough; consumers want to see those policies translated into action.
“A good DEI policy is more than just creating a generic statement to check a box,” he says.. Companies who do this can appear disingenuous, and consumers who are making purchase decisions based on a brand’s commitment to DEI initiatives will certainly expect more. Companies should list specific commitments that they want to achieve and how they are progressing towards these goals.”
Women least likely to purchase from companies without DEI policies
Our survey found women are less likely to patronize a business without stated policies on diversity, equity and inclusion. Forty-four percent of women are unlikely to buy products or services from a business without DEI policies, compared to 34% of men.
Half of Hispanic/Latinos want to see DEI before making a purchase
Among ethnic minorities, 50% of Hispanic/Latino respondents say they’re unlikely to buy products or services from a company if it doesn’t have stated DEI policies, compared to 43% of Asians, 40% of Blacks, and 38% of Whites.
All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by Digital.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, 1,250 adult Americans were surveyed regarding their political views, and how a company’s political leanings and stated policies regarding sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion influence their purchasing decisions.
This survey was conducted on July 21, 2021. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities.