retail news in context, analysis with attitude

PacificStandard.com has a story about new research published in the journal Psychological Science, which concludes that there is "a relationship between voting behavior, high levels of religiosity, and 'seemingly inconsequential product choices' ... They argue that your decision to vote for a certain candidate, and purchase a particular brand of detergent, springs from the same basic impulse."

The study says:

“Our empirical results, based on extensive field data, provide strong evidence that more conservative ideology is associated with higher reliance on established national brands (as opposed to generics) and a slower uptake of new products.

“These tendencies are consistent with traits typically associated with conservatism, such as aversion to risk, skepticism about new experiences, and a general preference for tradition, convention, and the status quo.”

In other words, conservatives like branded products, which are the primary focus at Walmart, while liberals are more likely to shop in a store like Trader Joe's, with its private brand dominance.
KC's View:
Pardon me if I disagree ... though I concede that I have none of the qualifications required to challenge study results published in places like Psychological Science.

But I would suggest that the scientists are writing like scientists, not consumers. Because I think they've missed that Trader Joe's has, in essence, created it own brand equity and lines of products that people trust and like. Trader Joe's, in the same sense that major manufacturers do, has established a brand promise.

So while it may in fact be true that conservatives prefer Walmart and liberals like Trader Joe's, I'm not sure that fealty to established brands is the lynchpin of psychological understanding.