What if all businesses were politically polarized?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit from it:

Imagine a “right-wing” supermarket chain and a “left-wing” alternative. The right-wing chain could offer discounts for NRA members and send money to the Republican Party. The left-wing version might have a commercial relationship with Planned Parenthood, sell more vegan products and take special care to promote women up through the ranks.

Maybe that sounds implausible, but many retailers have already segmented their markets through frequent buyer programs. You get better deals from the companies you patronize regularly, most of all from airlines and hotels. It requires only some stretch of the imagination to think that more of those programs could be organized around ideology. After all, if you are going to be “a Hilton customer” or “a Westin customer,” maybe politics could play a role. You personally don’t have to be very ideological; you simply might accept an ideological division over one that is purely arbitrary. Once in place, the continuing existence of the better deal from your preferred supplier will make this arrangement self-enforcing, just as I keep on flying United because of all my accumulated miles.


Social media accounts tie companies to ideologies more tightly than in the past. Who would have thought Delta Air Lines was a “left-wing” company? Maybe it isn’t really deep down, but it’s all over Facebook and Twitter that the airline revoked a discount for NRA members and just lost a tax break from the state of Georgia. At some point, the company might start acting out a left-wing persona to cultivate their available allies, whether or not it reflects the company’s true views.

Do read the whole thing.


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