Regardless of political leanings, it’s a difficult time to be a brand or retailer in the United States. Heightened tensions on both sides of the aisle have led to an environment where any slight — whether real or perceived — can lead to a firestorm of reactions, and ultimately jeopardize not only a company’s image but its bottom line as well. Consumers are now armed with social media tools that allow them to voice concerns with the push of a button, and it certainly takes less time to write a tweet than it does to fact-check the subject of its concerns. Add to that a sitting president who’s not only comfortable but enthusiastic about naming brands that have disappointed or pleased him, and you’ve got an unprecedented array of challenges that are as difficult to navigate as they are important to understand. “There’s no doubt that we’re in a more polarized environment than we were even six months ago,” Greg Portell, lead partner in the retail practice of global strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, told Retail Dive. “But what makes it more challenging is that the speed of the input has been accelerated. In the past, you had to write a letter, or talk to friends. Now you just write a post. Consumers are all teenagers with car keys: They have this new tool, and they’re using it, sometimes for the silliest possible purposes.” Read more at Retail Dive.