Covid and a Crowd of Startups Are Forever Changing How Americans Buy Cars

(Bloomberg) — Even before the pandemic, Laura Ratliff hated car shopping. She was hunting for a well-worn, yet dependable, Toyota SUV, but the options didn’t much impress her. When she got to a certain point with a model or two, they failed inspections with her mechanic. It didn’t help that the dealers she met fit the stereotype—unctuous and inspiring zero trust. She peeked at some listings on Craigslist, too, but those sellers were sketchier still.

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By May, as the Brooklyn, N.Y.-resident found herself in the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the U.S., she gave up the search. As a travel writer, Ratliff is often on the go, but for the time being, staying put seemed the best option. Her two dogs would be happy enough with their daily walks in Fort Greene Park rather than sprawling acres upstate.

Then she noticed a post on Instagram, from a

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Traeger Grills Is Smoking Voters Out of Their Homes to Get Americans to the Polls

For many years, conventional marketing wisdom held that brands should steer clear of political issues. The reasoning was simple enough: What company could afford to alienate a single customer by taking a position on something controversial?

But as the socially conscious millennial generation has taken its place as a $1.4 trillion spending bloc, there’s been a marked shift in this thinking. In 2018, data from Sprout Social found that a whopping 70% of consumers aren’t just OK with brands taking political stances, they consider it “important” that they do so—and that percentage was up from 64% in 2017.

But with some notable exceptions like Patagonia putting “Vote the Assholes Out” on the underside of its garment labels (a reference to officeholders who deny that climate change is real), the highly contentious nature of this election season makes taking a political stance a bigger risk than it’s historically been. And that

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