It works fairly well when I play pseudo-Mechanists. Not actually taking the Civic, but going Fanatic Materialist Pacifist, and then making a beeline for Exoskeletons/Robots, and then using Robots/Droids instead of my Weak BioPOPs on Minerals and Food.
That tends to create a large Materialist Faction, which I can milk for steady Influence.
My POPs are also Natural Sociologists, which allegedly increases Materialist Attraction further.
But right now I'm trying out Fanatic Materialist and Authoritarian instead, where I use Caste Slave own-species POPs on Food and Minerals, and only have a single perfunctory Robot or Droid on each large planet (can't afford them on small planets, because Caste Slaves are so much more productive) in an attempt to boost Materialist Attraction.
I've had this one-Robot policy from the start. And my POPs are still Natural Sociologists.
But Materialist Faction Attraction is small and not very attractive, and it has been that way ever since the Materialist Fation arose, which actually happened surprisingly late. For a very long time I only had one Faction, Authoritarians, at 100% of all POPs.
I still have a bunch of POPs who are Authoritarians, of course. I can semi-please those, get a little Influence from them. But I think there are too many of them.
But then I also get an Egalitarian Faction (yuk!) and those are basically unpleasable. They're only like 7% or 8% of my POPulation, but still, it's annoying. If half of those were Materialists, I'd be happier.
I also, for some bizarre reason, get the Aggressive Xenophobe Faction. Why?
Really, my core problem is that my Materialist Faction isn't attractive enough and that my Authoritarian Faction is more attractive than I'd like it to be. This nerfs my Influence income.
I've gone for Dictatorship, instead of my usual Oligarchy, to try something new, and I understand that this probably does increase Authoritarian Attraction somewhat more.
Still. I'm frustrated. Is the only way to get a large Materialist Faction to use Robots/Droids instead of Caste Slaves? Is it mandatory to have a huge Droid population?
I don't even want to be a roboticist, going for Synth Ascension. I'm a GeneModder. Why isn't there a variant Materalist Faction, one that gets a total nerdboner for genehacking, sharing my vision of becoming UberCreatures through supreme Traits? Is there a mod that adds such a Faction?