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The politics of status

We study a lot of brands that have “badge value,” that signal our status to other people. Research just published by the Journal of Marketing and summarized in the Harvard Business Review suggests there are different status-related goals and that people with certain political leanings respond differently to how status is framed.

In short, when it comes to luxury goods Republicans are more likely than Democrats to respond favorably to messaging about status maintenance (as opposed to status advancement).

The authors “attribute this to conservatives’ greater desire to preserve socioeconomic order and maintain existing social hierarchies.”

As they conclude, this has implications for how brands communicate across different channels. For example, if you spend a lot of time on conservative websites, Mercedes-Benz may want to target you with a slightly different emotional appeal than they would use on your equally wealthy friend, who subscribes to Mother Jones and listens online to NPR.