Holiday Shopping Gets Political

Customers are increasingly selecting retailers and brands that align with their values and holiday shopping is no different.

Consumer political concerns are swaying their purchase decisions as well as where they plan to shop this holiday shopping season.

In a recent holiday shopping survey conducted by The NPD Group, more consumers today than last year reported that a manufacturer’s or retailer’s position on current social, environmental and political issues would affect their purchasing decisions over the holidays.

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Younger consumers, especially Generation Z consumers born after 1997, were particularly sensitive to a company’s stance on social and environmental issues—no small thing, considering this young age cohort will account for 40% of all consumers in 2020.

“In this mid-term election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. “While many might disregard the social and environmental views of younger consumers, they do so at their peril. After all, the oldest Gen Z consumers are just now entering the workforce – and the purchasing power of this generation will increase significantly in the years ahead.”

Social and Environmental Issues
More than half of consumers (52%) said that a manufacturer’s or a retailer’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions, which is three percentage points higher than 2017.

Among the Generation Z cohort, that number rose to 65%, followed by Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, at 55%. “Younger generations want—and will pay a premium for—brands that stand for something and those that have corporate social programs that are aligned with their values,” Cohen said.

Political Leanings
Similarly, nearly half (47%) of all U.S. consumers indicated that general political issues would play a role in their purchases, which is three points higher than last year. Nearly half (49%) of baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reported that a company’s politics would affect their buying decisions, followed by Generation Z at 48% and Millennials at 47%.

The “Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey” is designed to better understand consumers’ shopping and spending intentions for the upcoming holiday season. An online survey was fielded to members of NPD’s online consumer panel in September 2018. The survey was fielded to a U.S. representative sample. The results of 3,605 completed surveys are presented in this report.