Consumers see corporate profiteering as a driver of inflation

New polling results published Monday show that most U.S. voters see corporate profiteering as a critical driver of inflation and support a federal crackdown on companies that are “unfairly” pushing costs onto consumers. What are marketers doing about this? Nothing.

Conducted by Data for Progress and released by the Groundwork Collaborative, the survey found that 63% of U.S. voters—including 51% of Republicans, 76% of Democrats, and 62% of Independents—believe that “large corporations are taking advantage of the pandemic to raise prices unfairly on consumers and increase profits.”

Just 29% of voters believe the narrative—advanced by lavishly compensated company executives—that “large corporations have no choice but to raise prices in response to rising costs,” the poll found.

With the U.S. inflation rate currently at a level not seen in decades, debates have raged in Congress, the media, and inside the Biden administration over what’s behind the persistent price increases.

While experts argue that several factors are to blame—including supply chain failures rooted in decades of neoliberal policymaking and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic—the Data for Progress survey found that 52% of voters believe corporate price gouging contributes “a great deal” to inflation.

The poll also showed that 80% of U.S. voters want the federal government to “crackdown on large corporations that raise prices unfairly,” a position that aligns with the demands of progressive lawmakers.

“Big corporations aren’t shy in telling their investors how they’re taking advantage of the pandemic to jack up prices and pad their own profits—and the public is noticing,” Lindsay Owens, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, said in a statement Monday.

The new survey data was released after several high-profile corporations—including Starbucks and Amazon—announced plans to hike prices on goods and services even after reporting rising profits.

Rising U.S. prices are hitting all Americans, and lower-income households have less leeway in their budgets to handle the surging cost of everyday items ranging from gasoline to food. But upper-income households may be more aware of the impact of inflation given that they haven’t enjoyed the same income gains of late as lower-income workers, which means their “real wages” — or wages after inflation is factored in — are declining.

The study found that about 66% of consumers earning more than $100,000 were worried about inflation, compared with 61% of households earning less than $50,000. (The polling was done before Russia invaded Ukraine, so the potential inflationary impact on gas prices and other goods wasn’t reflected in the survey.)

If brand marketers think that great marketing or advertising will calm down pissed off consumers, they’re sadly mistaken. Consumers are too damn savvy and read that many brands are reporting record profits, and they’re going to punish brands.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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