Thursday, January 16, 2014

Does political affiliation affect our views of product and service brands?

How does political affiliation affect our perceptions of various brand-name products and services? Does ideology change the way we view brands? Or does it make no difference at all?

This is one of the questions explored by the market research firm YouGov in its annual Brand Index for 2013, which surveys consumers about their attitudes toward a wide range of brand names from Aflac and to V8 and Victoria's Secret.

Explaining the overall rankings, Lucia Moses wrote in Adweek:

Buoyed by strong sales of its e-readers and expansion of its free-shipping service, Amazon topped the list of best-perceived brands of 2013, as measured by YouGov's BrandIndex. Rounding out the top 5 were Ford, Subway, History Channel and Lowe's. Last year also was a good one for financial institutions, which began to earn consumers' forgiveness for their role in the economic meltdown: Four of the five best-improved brands in 2013 were banks.
In addition to its overall rankings, YouGov provides a breakdown of results by industry (e.g., airlines, hotels, and insurance) and by several demographic groups (LGBT, parents, Millennials, minorities).

YouGov explains its methodology like this:
These brands were rated using YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score which asks respondents, "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"

The Buzz Rankings chart shows the brands with the highest average Buzz scores between January and December 2013. Scores are representative of this segment.

All Buzz scores listed have been rounded to a single decimal place, however, we have used additional precision to assign ranks.
In answering that primary question, for instance, the top brand for LGBT survey respondents was YouTube -- perhaps unduly weighted by followers of Tyler Oakley and  Davey Wavey.  For both African-Americans and Hispanic respondents, the top brand was Walgreen's. Parents' top brand was the same as the country as a whole,, while for Millennials the top choice was Google.

YouGov's Brand Index divides Americans up into three political affiliation categories: Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Intriguingly, the three groups only have one brand in common among their top five rankings: Subway, which was the 2012 overall winner in consumer perceptions.

Here are the top five for each of the three political categories:

It's noteworthy that the Republicans' scoring of Fox News at 42.1 blows away any competitors in any categories. (Top-ranked had an overall score of 30.6.)  At the same time, Fox News doesn't even show up in the top five of the "networks" category, where the History Channel tops out the category at 26.4. (Neither CNN nor MSNBC shows up in the national top five, for what it's worth.)  Republicans and independents also like the History Channel, at 31.9 and 27.8, respectively, although that network is not included in the Democrats' top five.

Republicans also like Chick-Fil-A, giving it a score of 31.8 and a rank of 5.  The same quick service restaurant (QSR) is ranked fifth overall in that category, but with a nationwide score of only 11.9,

Democrats and independents both like, ranking it first, but the online retailer does not turn up in the Republicans' top five.

Similarly, Republicans and independents like Ford, both ranking it second, but the car manufacturer fails to show up in the Democrats' top five.

There is no separate breakdown for Libertarians' top brands.  Perhaps the sample size was too small.  It would be interesting to learn whether libertarian views of providers of products and services differs from those of conservatives and liberals.

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