The Gist: Despite the sense of political powerlessness that many are feeling, and the rise of consumer boycotts, it seems that Americans still turn to Government over businesses in order to affect change. In addition, wealthier Americans seem to feel the most power over corporate policies (29%), while Americans making under $50k tend to feel no power over government or corporate policies at all (42%).
Recently, we discovered that socially-conscious consumers are on the rise. Perhaps – we wondered – consumers are drawn more towards socially conscious behavior because they feel that their actions have a greater impact on businesses rather than government policy and election outcome. Given the sense of powerlessness that many are feeling, it seems plausible.
To find out if this thought holds any weight, we asked:
As you can see, 48% of Americans don’t feel they have power over any government policies, or the policies of businesses where they shop.
Of those who differ, 23% say that they think they have the most power over state and local government policies. This majority is followed by the 16% who think they have the most power over small businesses where they shop.
Maybe we can attribute the rise in the local / small business movement, in part, to the fact that consumers feel they can contribute to and affect their policies more so than other businesses.
When we consolidate the preceding data into government vs. corporate, a more concrete story emerges:
As you can see from this non-exhaustive list, Americans generally feel they have more power over government policies (31%) rather than corporate policies (20%).
Unlike the general population, Millennials are more likely to feel power over the policies of businesses where they shop. Gen Xers are in line with the general population, while Baby Boomers are significantly more likely to feel power over neither government nor corporate policies.
Simplified to three income brackets, we find that those who make over $100k are much more likely to feel power over the businesses where they shop, and under-index when it comes to government policy.
Conversely, those who make under $50k are more likely to feel that they have no power over government or corporate policies, with the next largest segment among them feeling the most power over government policies.
In a time where a growing number of Americans are feeling a sense of political disenfranchisement, and where consumer boycotts have spiked, we found all of this data somewhat surprising.