Bringing Partisan Rage to the Grocery Store

A few weeks ago, The Economist told its readers about a new smartphone app you can use in your grocery store to find out if the makers of a given food or consumer product agree or disagree with your politics:

"A new app called BuyPartisan reveals whether any given product is made by Republicans or Democrats. Using an iPhone's camera, it scans the barcode and reports back on the ideology (as measured by donations to political parties) of the directors and staff of the company in question."

Even the Colbert Report got in on this story (warning before you click: it's not all that funny). After watching it, I'm thinking that half of all Cheerios eaters are gonna need to rethink breakfast.

Of course, any CK reader--regardless of political affiliation--already knows to avoid all branded boxed cereals. It's not a political issue, it's an issue of consumers receiving proper value for their money.

But this brings up a bigger, broader question that I'd like to ask readers: How important is it that the company you buy from shares your views?

And if it's important, where do you draw the line? With what products? If you hear, for example, that the chairman of the company that makes your pasta brand doesn't happen to validate your lifestyle, do you instantly change brands?

And if that's the case, what if your monopoly electric power company leans to the left and you're a Republican? Do you live off the grid? What do you do if you're a Democrat, you need to fill up your tank, and you can't find a left-leaning oil company? Where do you compromise, and where won't you? Or does this even matter at all?

Readers, share your thoughts: does it matter if a company you buy from holds views that differ from yours?

Read Next: How To Be Manipulated By a Brand

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Anonymous said...

With the caveat that a fairly large swath of people can't remember for long why they became irritated with "Olive Garden" & then "Papa Johns" & then & then & then, there is a folly in this exercise.

Also there are some companies that you might support for X but disagree on Y (I imagine this happens a lot.)

Not unlike the rest of life you have to pick your battles.

Once upon a time ago, I did not care for something that Papa Johns did (Probably related to the Affordable Care Act) & therefore chose not to buy that brand of Pizza - unfortunately back in reality, we kind of like that brand of pizza...

Currently I've got an issue with corporations getting involved in the feminine healthcare of its employees, so I am not buying Eden Foods products (not hard, I barely made purchases from them to begin with) nor am I shopping at Hobby Lobby (again not hard, I've never been in a Hobby Lobby store).

Unfortunately I fear that in the not so distant future, there will be more & more companies with this objection & I will be back to choosing the lesser of the 2 weevils.

Without even getting into, how can you tell who exactly make the Food Lion O's that you buy because they are less expensive than Cheerios?

Also without navigating food purchasing choices that are already limited based on your own beliefs - vegan, gluten free, Kosher. If you are self limiting & the companies that make what you want don't support your belief in X - then what?

Not very cohesive, but...

Raymond Ullmer said...

I see in my crystal ball a new supermarket chain that in effect has two stores side-by-side with one check-out in the middle: "Buy Right" and "Buy Left" with all produce politically pre-sorted for your convenience. A big boo-hiss from the shoppers if you ever cross the line in the middle for that ONE thing you need to have!

We haven't been this tribalized since the days of Quake and Quisp cereal.

Mike G said...

Have you ever seen those "American Owned" signs on stores - usually in locations which have strong anti-immigrant feelings, or the Christian fish symbol embedded in advertising. I always wonder if doing those things ultimately helps the merchant make more sales or if it alienates people? (I suppose that all "green" advertising falls into this category as well though perhaps there isn't a potential downside for the business)

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, already. I go to the grocery store to buy food that is healthy and reasonably priced. If you expect me to play follow the leader and boycott products based on advice supplied by some anonymous internet application, it ain't happening!
Read Orwell's Animal Farm. If it was written today the sheep would now be using these apps on their cell phones.

Marcia said...

I dunno. My kids go through phases. They are in a bagel phase, so the cheerios are now stale. I found myself googling cheerios recipes, so I think I will be making cheerios and applesauce muffins, or cheerios granola crunch soon.

My husband is a Kellogg's raisin bran fan. He's tried the other brands, doesn't like the taste. I think it might be the only brand of anything we are loyal to, in the entire house. Except maybe Claritin. I'm allergic to the generic version (funny and ironic, I know).

chacha1 said...

there's a threshold for my political involvement, and it's pretty high. meaning that your garden-variety "boycott" or online petition is not going to get any traction with me, and I would not use an app like this because I think it's just plain dumb.

And ultimately self-defeating.

Partisanship is a PROBLEM, not a solution; our country's founders said so way back in The Federalist Papers.

People who want more partisanship in their lives need to GET a life.