Political Polarization: Challenges, Opportunities, and Hope for Consumer Welfare, Marketers, and Public Policy
Sprott, David E.
Van Steenburg, Eric
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Political polarization is a marked political division in the population, characterized by multiple manifestations. The authors argue that it can affect consumer psychology, which in turn influences marketers, policy makers, and consumer welfare. The present work introduces the construct of political polarization to the marketing literature and shows how it serves as a novel challenge for various marketing stakeholders. For consumers, the authors propose that political polarization increases the salience of political identities, alters inter- and intragroup dynamics, and amplifies cognitive biases. These effects negatively affect consumer welfare, including financial welfare, relationships, mental and physical health, and societal interests. For marketers, polarization introduces a challenge to both be more sociopolitically engaged while also navigating competing political interests. Polarization also creates new opportunities and challenges for segmentation, targeting, loyalty, and product offerings. For policy makers, political polarization creates policy gaps, impedes the implementation of policy, and obstructs governance. Building from these insights, the authors consider the drawbacks and overlooked benefits of political polarization, potential remedies, and directions for future research.
Weber, T.J., Hydock, C., Ding, W., Gardner, M., Jacob, P., Mandel, N., Sprott, D.E. and Van Steenburg, E., 2021. Political polarization: challenges, opportunities, and hope for consumer welfare, marketers, and public policy. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 40(2), pp.184-205.