In this age of political awareness, a popular mantra that a lot of people are now living by is “Vote with
your pocketbook”. With this in mind, a particular startup company named Progressive Shopper has built
a platform where online shoppers can easily find out the political affiliations of their favorite brands
while shopping online. This is made possible with the help of a web extension that users can easily
install. Online consumers can now exercise their own purchasing power for or against different brands.
“We’re empowering consumers to shop their values”, says Van Chappell, co-founder of this startup.
Corporations spend so much money annually in funding different political candidates and campaigns.
Since 2015, we have seen airlines paying out over 21 million dollars towards political contributions,
electronic companies have paid out around 38 million dollars. All of this information you can get from
the Progressive Shopper’s website. This data is in the public domain and it is gathered by the Federal
Elections Commission (FEC). Until now, accessing this information was a bit too heavy for the average
The progressive shopper has solved this problem and has made this data available to consumers in
chunks that are useful. The platforms get data from the FEC and present this information to shoppers
in a manner they can easily digest.
When you download the Chrome web extension, you will notice a flag in the upper right corner of the
browser and this is where your alerts pop up giving you information on a brand or retailer. You get a
blue flag if the brand has strong ties to Democrats and a red flag if it has strong ties to the Republicans.
There is a purple flag notification for bipartisan brands. If you wish to go more in depth, you can click on
the flag and access more details such as total contributions and even employee contributions.
“It allows consumers to make informed choices about whether they want to shop at that company,”
says co-founder Mark Hanis.
At this time, you will be able to get information on popular brands and stores but not on specific
products that are sold by retailers. By next year, the platform will have that capability. Chappell has
a background in healthcare and marketing while Hanis has an extensive background in social
entrepreneurship. They both got together to talk about their venture after the 2016 election. They were
intrigued by the possibility of giving the consumer a means to exercise his purchasing power.
“There’s a lot of research showing that millennials want to be conscious consumers, but there weren’t a
a lot of user-friendly tools,” he says.