Trump Brand

The Politics of Consumer Sentiment: Changes in the Trump Brand

Since his election to the Presidency, the added-value the Trump name brings to consumer categories has ‘ping-ponged’ according to changes in the political landscape.

Editor’s Note: While TheCustomer as a publication is resolutely non-partisan and even apolitical, the recent research from Brand Keys on the Trump brand is both interesting and informative for marketers who work with high-profile brands and personalities.

Impeachment Inquiry Further Erodes The Trump Brand

Consumers See Trump As “Entertainer-In-Chief”

For 30 years Donald J. Trump had been one of the most powerful consumer brands Brand Keys, the global leader in emotional engagement and brand loyalty, has tracked. Since his election to the Presidency, the added-value the Trump name brings to consumer categories has ‘ping-ponged’ according to changes in the political landscape.

“It’s worth noting that brands operate differently in the political arena than they do in the consumer marketplace,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “It’s difficult for one brand – even one that was as strong as Trump – to operate successfully in both simultaneously.”

After a marathon week of impeachment hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, Brand Keys fielded another wave of research to measure the current efficacy and potency of the Trump brand. The national survey, conducted November 22-30, 2019, included 1,516 Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. The current research examined four categories where Brand Keys has historically tracked the Trump brand.

The Trump “Human Brand” Lift/Drop

Brand Keys designated Mr. Trump a “Human Brand” more than 30 years ago when the company identified actual people that were the living embodiments of particular value sets, and who were able to successfully, seamlessly, and profitably transfer those values to products and services. If they could do that, it would increase the perceived worth and desirability of the branded product. Percentages below indicate the added-value (or reduction) produced by adding the Trump name within these particular consumer sectors.

Category                   Feb. 2017      Dec. 2017     Oct. 2018     Jan. 2019     Dec. 2019
TV/Entertainment        45%            32%                    27%              32%                 42%
Country/Golf Clubs      51%            57%                    42%              42%                 37%
Real Estate                      48%            55%                    40%              35%                 30%
Hotels                              50%            51%                    53%              47%                 41%

In the current wave, the Trump brand saw a significant added-value drop in three of the four categories tracked. Only “TV/Entertainment” rebounded from its 2018 low. “The media continues to view the President through a political lens,” noted Passikoff. “From a marketing perspective, consumers are using an entertainment lens. They see him as the ‘Entertainer-In-Chief.’”

Politics Matter

Human Brands, because they are the embodiments of real values of a real person make the person more accountable for their actions. “A brand as heavily invested in an actual human being – like Trump – will necessarily suffer more negative effects during challenging times,” said Passikoff. “Since Trump made a sharp right turn away from consumer marketing into politics, consumers’ tribal and political relationships have made their effects felt as regards the success of the brand.”

Below are current, category-specific Trump brand assessments according to consumers’ political affiliations:

Category                               12/19 Total    Democrats    Independents     Republicans
TV/Entertainment                    42%                 35%                        38%                   48%
Country/Golf Clubs                  37%                 32%                        38%                  41%
Real Estate                                 30%                 27%                        32%                   31%
Hotels                                         41%                 40%                        40%                   43%

What’s Next?

After the Thanksgiving break, the focus around impeachment will switch from the Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee. Once the House’s investigation is complete, they’ll decide whether or not to recommend articles of impeachment, or charges to be specifically brought against the president. “None of which we anticipate will help the Trump brand,” opined Passikoff.

None of this seems to bother President Trump who tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is unifying the Republican party and the ‘Witch Hunt is only bringing us closer together.’

Robert Passikoff“That may be true for some Republican voters,” noted Passikoff, “But generally speaking, not for consumers.”

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash.


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