Red State Brands Vs. Blue State Brands

The concept of dedicated Red (Republican) and Blue (Democratic) States has emerged in the last several elections and is now part of our political and cultural lexicon. We use these coined terms as shorthand for more than how the majority will vote. We use them as semantic code for pro-life or anti-abortion; pro- or anti-gay marriage rights; pro- or anti-death penalty, and most recently, enthusiastically supporting or rabidly despising Alaska's own, Sarah Palin.

That started me thinking. Exactly how far does this color polarization go? Does the Red/Blue dichotomy transcend political opinions and social values into marketing response? As a branding professional, I began to wonder whether consumers residing in different-colored states admire different brands. Does their commitment to Redness or Blueness also translate into brand choices?

To answer these questions, we tapped into the BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV), Landor's powerful brand research tool. BAV is the world's largest study of brands (3,000 brands in the United States alone) and is based on the knowledge that brands are more than products and that strong brands share some fundamental traits. We measure product brands, company brands, sub-brands, celebrity brands, and not-for-profits. They are all there. Moreover, recent studies have begun to demonstrate the connections between strong, admired brands and cultural variations both within and across countries. By creating separate data sets of Red and Blue States, BAV allowed us to scan for any important differences.



The results made us smile. As we would expect in One Nation Under God, the lists of Top 10 brands in Red States and Blue States are pretty similar, but with some dramatic differences.

Only five brands appear in both Top 10 lists: Disney, the U.S. Army, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Hallmark. As we see so often in our BAV analyses, Disney is No. 1. Year after year, the all-family yet diversified appeal and offer that is Disney crosses all demographics and psychographics--apparently, it also crosses political boundaries. The same goes for Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Hallmark--these brands have achieved such stature that they transcend other characteristics and make every Top 10 list. They are brands that are either fundamental to daily life (Microsoft) or have created a strong emotional bond with American consumers over many, many years (Coca-Cola and Hallmark). Apparently, emotion trumps politics.

The conventional wisdom that Red States would be more aligned with traditional American values is supported by BAV data: Two armed forces appear in the list (both the Navy and the Army), compared to only one for Blue States--the Army squeaks in at No. 9.

Furthermore, we find solid, useful, traditional product brands such as Ziploc and Reynolds Wrap on the Red States' list. While both lists sport Microsoft, a powerful and necessary brand in modern life, the Blue States' list is a bit more weighted toward technology with the addition of Sony and Google.

RankRed Republican StatesBlue Democratic States
1Disney Disney
2 U.S. Navy Hallmark
3 Reynolds Wrap Tupperware
4 Walmart Microsoft
5 Ziploc Sony
6 U.S. Army Coca-Cola
7 Coca-Cola National Geographic
8 Microsoft Google
9 Discovery Channel U.S. Army
10 Hallmark Hershey's

And what of Walmart? This is probably the most interesting and dramatic difference. Weighing in at No. 4 in Red States, Walmart doesn't appear until No. 55 in Blue States. What to make of this? Is it demographic? Are Red States more value-oriented? Is it economic? Do Red States have a greater need for "everyday low prices"? Or is it something more deeply rooted? Is there something in the cultural makeup of Blue States that leads them to admire Google, Sony, and Tupperware more than Walmart? Maybe we should suggest that the politicos change the classification system to Walmart States and Not-Walmart States. I wonder if the Walmart market share could be the next predictor of the electoral college vote?

Stay tuned.

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