How experiential branding is changing attitudes on climate change
As a brand man, I have a keen interest in climate change. But my interest goes far beyond just political action. What interests me most is how a person’s brand identification predicts their views on the subject.
But, my bent on branding asks me to examine how attitudes change. I might even go so far as to say one side of the argument is getting more persuasive. What can we learn as brand anthropologists? I’m thinking of experiential branding. Feeling and experiencing something personal often changes one’s brand perception.
The political divide
For sure, climate change is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences. It is also a politically charged issue, with different political parties often having different views on the causes, severity, and solutions to climate change.
The United States has a significant partisan divide on climate change. According to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey, 73% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believe climate change is caused mainly by human activity, while only 22% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe the same. This reflects the divide in how different political brands view climate change.
Experiential branding. "It's happening to me."
In recent years, many extreme weather events in the United States have been linked to climate change. These events have had a significant impact on people’s lives and property, and they have also raised awareness of climate change.
How have recent weather events affected how various political brands see climate dynamics in the United States? What are these changes’ implications for the future climate change policy in the United States?
Recent Weather Events and Climate Change
The United States has recently experienced many extreme weather events linked directly to it. These events include:
- The 2017 Hurricane Harvey caused an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas and Louisiana.
- The 2018 California wildfires killed over 85 people and destroyed over 10,000 homes.
- The 2019-2020 Western United States drought was the region’s driest two-year period on record.
- The 2021 heat wave in the Pacific Northwest caused hundreds of deaths.
- The 2023 heatwave in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma
- The Candian Wildfires
These events have had a significant impact on people’s lives and property. They have also raised awareness of climate change and its potential consequences.
But they are also a prime example of experiential branding (or experiential marketing).
A 2022 Yale Program on Climate Change Communication study found that 70% of Americans believe climate change is already harming the United States.
This is up from 61% in 2019. The study also found that 63% of Americans believe climate change is caused mainly by human activity. This is up from 59% in 2019.
These findings suggest that recent weather events have made Americans more aware of the climate and its potential consequences.
This increased awareness will likely impact how Americans view climate change and its solutions.
Politcal parties don't see the same things
The United States has a significant partisan divide on climate change. According to the Pew Research Center survey mentioned above, 73% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believe climate change is caused mainly by human activity.
In comparison, only 22% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe the same.
This partisan divide is reflected in how different political brands view climate change. The Democratic Party has generally been more supportive of taking action to address climate change, while the Republican Party has been more skeptical of the issue.
Attitudes are changing
In recent years, there have been signs that the Republican Party is becoming more open to taking action on climate change.
For example, in 2020, the Republican Party platform acknowledged that climate change is real and human activity contributes to it.
However, the platform also emphasized the need for economic growth and job creation, and it did not call for any specific policies to address climate change.
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has continued to call for aggressive action on climate change. In 2020, the Democratic Party platform called for a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. It also called for investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation.
The partisan divide on climate change will likely continue to be a significant obstacle to progress on climate policy in the United States.
However, the recent weather events and the growing public awareness of climate change may create an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together on this issue.