Consumers identify strongly with their favorite brands. Millennials, especially, prefer companies that share their social and political values: Nearly a third of this generation says they won't buy from a business that has different political positions than their own, according to a survey by Morning Consult.
This week, many SoulCycle and Equinox customers were shocked and angered when it came to light that Stephen Ross, chairman of the fitness brands' parent company The Related Companies, plans to hold a fundraiser for President Donald Trump's reelection campaign. Many high-profile customers like actor Billy Eichner said they would boycott the establishments.
In reality, business leaders often use their money and influence to support political causes. But for conscious consumers, there are several resources available that offer insight into which political causes the executives of your favorite companies have donated to.
By law, campaigns and political action committees must disclose the personal details of individuals who donate $200 or more, including their names, addresses and employers. The Federal Election Commission website has a tool to search these individual contributions by the donor's name to find information about what candidate or organization they gave to, along with the amount and date of the donation.
While the FEC's website has a wealth of information, it can get overwhelming searching through the massive database. That's why other tools have cropped up that aim to distill the complex political contribution data down into actionable insights.
An online portal from the Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets, aggregates contribution data in an easy-to-read format. The center has also ranked the organizations that have donated the most money to political causes.
Goods Unite Us is a free mobile app that allows users to search for a company and learn about which political parties and candidates senior employees have donated to. The app was started by legal professionals and says it has info on over 4,000 brands.
Financial news website MarketWatch compiled the political contributions of every CEO of an S&P 500 company during the 2018 midterm election cycle and created a searchable database. The data is broken down by political party, and you can look at each donation individually.
Zippia, a job search portal, has a similar tool but on a broader scale. For each company, the site aggregated the contributions of every employee whose donations were publicly available. For example, 87.5% of Apple employees' contributions were to the Democratic Party, according to Zippia's data.
In an increasingly divided political climate, companies' perceived values can have a big impact on how customers think of them. After Stephen Ross's Trump fundraiser plans were revealed, SoulCycle reps took to social media to distance the brand from the chairman. "SoulCycle in no way endorses the political fundraising event being held later this week," CEO Melanie Whelan wrote on Twitter.
"I'd definitely say the polarized atmosphere has lit a little more outrage than would've taken place 10 years ago," Brendan Quinn, outreach manager at the Center for Responsive Politics, told CNBC Make It.
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