Can you tell a person's political affiliation from where they do their shopping? According to "global neuro-insight firm" Buyology, you can. And Buyology's come up with some peculiar political observations from the world of retail.
Republicans and Democrats diverge sharply on certain issues -- gun control, taxation, and gay rights, to name a few. Recently, that last issue spilled over into the consumer market, when chicken sandwich hawker Chick-fil-A took a vocal stance in defense of "traditional marriage." This feathery kerfuffle surprised a lot of folks. But according to Buyology, political parties have been drawing lines defining business brands as "red" or "blue" for quite some time.
Some of these are obvious -- and pun-fully so. For example, many Democrats describe themselves as "progressive." But did you know they also tend to buy insurance from Progressive (PGR)? (Republicans prefer Allstate (ALL)).
Republicans, historically a conservative bunch, spend their TV-watching time at -- you guessed it -- the History Channel. Meanwhile, their peers from the left side of the aisle tune into Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet.
Other allegiances are more surprising. For example, Buyology argues that Democrats may prefer companies purveying top-down, one-size-fits-all, packaged solutions, while Republicans are "more laissez-faire." This would explain Dems' preference for Wendy's (WEN) menu of meal deals, while Republicans dine at Subway, where each ingredient on a sandwich is handpicked by the consumer.
Still, this theory fails to explain why Democrats gravitate toward Starbucks -- the mecca of personalized beverage-choosing, or why Republicans join their left-wing brethren in making "locked-box" computer maker Apple their top choice for technology.
Brands to Bank On
Buyology admits it's hard to nail down why one party or another prefers a particular business, but if its data are correct, that's not really the point. The point is that knowing which businesses a demographic favors may help us to invest more intelligently.
Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the White House this year, one thing's certain: Come November, one party or another will win the majority in America. It stands to reason that businesses popular with this voting majority will attract more customers than those catering to the outnumbered losers. The biggest winner in 2012 may be the winning party's "same-store sales."
Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Starbucks, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, writing naked calls on Dunkin' Brands Group, and writing covered calls on Starbucks.