Red and blue states are buying blue jeans differently.
Republicans are more likely to wear Wrangler jeans, a brand popular in the West and Midwest, while Democrats favor San Francisco-based brand Levi’s, appealing to Americans living in cities, consumer research data cited by the Wall Street Journal show.
Levi’s customer base shifted from 2004 to 2018, growing by 3 percentage points to a more Democratic consumer base, while Wrangler’s swayed 13 percentage points toward a Republican customer base, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. The Journal findings were drawn from 15 years of consumer surveys by research firm MRI-Simmons.
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The fashion favoritism stems from shoppers buying from brands that seem to appeal to their social and political views. A survey from public relations firm Edelman found that almost 60 percent of 1,000 Americans said they would avoid or choose a brand based on whether the brand aligns with their beliefs on social issues. What’s more, 53 percent said all brands have a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly affect their business, the report found.
“It’s brand democracy. People actually feel somehow they can make more of a difference with their purchases than they can by voting every four years,” Richard Edelman, chief executive officer of Edelman, told FOX Business. “Consumers are buying on beliefs, not just on function.”
Companies are increasingly vocalizing their stances on political issues such as immigration, gay rights and gun control to appeal to a new generation of consumers after the 2016 election. Outside of the fashion industry, the consumer partisanship is exhibited across a number of other categories such as sports, food and news, according to the Journal’s analysis.
The research analyzed 2,528 brands, stores and products and found the number of items from companies that appeared Democratic rose by at least 3 percentage points to 309 in 2018 from 192 in 2004. The number of items that skewed Republican, meanwhile, decreased to 153 from 214.
Levi Strauss & Co. has championed liberal causes such as immigration reform and gun control. The blue jeans brand lobbied for legislation to prevent gun violence in September, joining other companies including Uber and Twitter, by asking senators to require background checks on gun sales. Wrangler, meanwhile, has not been political.
And outside of the fashion industry, big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple tend to be more Democratic, while brands such as Nordstrom, Walmart, and CVS appear to be more Republican, according to a separate report from the Global Strategy Group titled “Doing Business in an Activist World” from March. It found that 79 percent of consumers think brands should speak out on social and political issues, and 87 percent believe big companies have the power to make changes.