My Fridge

Even Our Refrigerators Are Polarized?

The New York Times seems to think that even our refrigerators are polarized. Let’s just say they have a bias that favors polarization. Political agitation is good for their business model – just as it is for Fox News. But seriously, the Times collected more than a thousand images of refrigerators through a mobile phone survey. They also asked who the household was voting for. Thus they assembled a database with hundreds of images of Trump and Biden refrigerators.

Then came the challenge. The Times served up images of a voter’s refrigerator and asked the reader to guess whether it was a Trump or a Biden fridge. So far, after more than two million guesses, people are getting it right only 53 percent of the time.

So even if our refrigerators are polarized, readers of the Times don’t really understand the clues.

Polarized Politics and Polarized Brands

The Times survey of refrigerators might be great fun, even if it’s not very edifying. But for a more serious look, we turn to scholars led by Verena Schoenmueller. They examined how political partisanship in America may be influencing preferences for consumer brands, media, and nonprofit organizations. And yes, they did indeed find that polarization is driving preferences. Also, they found polarization is growing stronger.

Some of the preferences were obvious. Others a little less so. Makers Mark and Chick-fil-A were top picks for Republicans. Chobani was big with Dems. From the Times we hear that Grey Poupon and bottles of Minute Maid orange juice are big in Dem refrigerators. In Republican refrigerators, Pace Picante Sauce and Ken’s salad dressing are more common.

In the Journal of Retailing, Jihye Jung and Vikas Mittal go straight to the bottom line. Political identity is much bigger than mere party affiliation. They explain why marketers must pay attention to how their brands mesh with political identities. Politics are indeed polarizing and activist consumers can ambush a brand.

So while it’s not clear that our refrigerators are terribly polarized, you can be sure that food marketers are paying attention.

Click here for the survey of refrigerators in the Times, here for the paper by Schoenmueller et al, and here for the paper by Jung and Mittal.

My Fridge, photograph © Yann Gar / flickr

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October 29, 2020

One Response to “Even Our Refrigerators Are Polarized?”

  1. October 29, 2020 at 10:39 am, Holly said:

    How very, very sad that our lives have come to this! Can there not be one place in our lives where we aren’t subjected to politics, however subline!