trump brand

Trump Experiences the Downside of a Politicized Brand

Since his election to the Presidency, the added-value the Trump brand engenders has ‘ping-ponged’ according to his political postures.

Editor’s Note:  Brand Keys has been tracking consumer sentiment and brand loyalty for the past 25 years and has compiled one of the most robust longitudinal views of brand performance ever assembled.  One of the beauties of this kind of research is that its utility transcends branding and loyalty and can be applied (very nicely) to things like politics.  To wit, today’s news:

Trump Brand Loses Added-Value in 75% of Categories Tracked

  • Consumers – particularly republicans – see Trump as “Entertainer-In-Chief”
  • 21% of Americans would tune in to ‘Trump TV’

For 30 years Donald Trump was one of the most powerful consumer brands that Brand Keys, the global leader in brand loyalty and emotional engagement research, tracked. Since his election to the Presidency, the added-value the Trump name engenders has ‘ping-ponged’ according to his political postures.

The Trump Brand Took A Sharp Right And. . .

Since Trump made a sharp right turn away from consumer marketing to politics, consumers’ tribal and political bonds have made their effects felt. “The Trump brand lost efficacy in a number of consumer categories it once dominated,” noted Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “It’s difficult for one brand, even one as strong as Trump’s, to operate successfully in the consumer and political arenas simultaneously.”

The Trump “Human Brand” – Lift And Drop

Mr. Trump was designated a “Human Brand” in 1991 by Brand Keys, which coined the nomenclature to describe people that were the living embodiments of particular value sets, who were able to successfully and profitably transfer those values to products and services. If a Human Brand could do that, it increased a product’s perceived value and desirability. Percentages reported by Brand Keys indicate the value-add (or reduction) produced by, in this case, adding the Trump name to a product category or sector.

Four Categories Survive Trump Politics and MAGA Hats Don’t Count

Ultimately, labels and retailers abandoned the Trump brand, and categories – clothing, suits, ties, watches, and jewelry traditionally tracked – vanished. “MAGA hats and tee-shirts were self-classified by respondents as ‘political statements’ rather than traditional clothing,” noted Passikoff.

Four categories in which the Trump brand still exhibits Human Brand-efficacy includes TV/Entertainment, Golf & Country Clubs, Hotels, and Real Estate. In the current tracking wave, the Trump brand decreased its value-add in three of the four categories. Only TV/Entertainment was up.

trump brand lift

Political Branding Effects

The most recent national Brand Keys survey, conducted October 19-27, 2020, included 1,812 self-identified Republicans, Democrats, and Independents drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions. It examined the four categories where the Trump brand still resonates. The only category where attaching the Trump name showed any lift was TV/Entertainment – but only among Republicans.

trump brand lift

Tuning Into Trump

Four years ago, when a win for Hillary Clinton was assumed, the expected move for then- candidate Donald Trump was a Trump TV channel. His surprise victory changed that trajectory, but with President Trump soon to exit the White House speculation about launching a Trump cable network has reemerged.

Twenty-one percent (21%) of the total sample indicated a top-two box likelihood (definitely/probably) of watching some form of Trump TV, with political affiliation clearly and unexpectedly influencing likelihood-to-view:

  • Democrats: 7%
  • Independents: 15%
  • Republicans: 41%

“Trump’s efficacy as the ‘Entertainer-in-Chief’ has already been demonstrated. Cable news network ratings have hit record levels since he became a candidate,” noted Passikoff. “And remember Trump was already a TV star as the host of ‘The Apprentice.’”

Launching a cable network is problematic as consumers continue to shift away from pay TV subscriptions. “It would be more viable for Trump to acquire an existing channel that caters to his conservative followers or to sign on as a program host at an established network,” said Passikoff. “Trump’s tweets reveal he already believes he is personally responsible for Fox News’ dominance in the ratings, although it has been the most-watched cable news source since 2002.”

“A Trump TV show might help to revive faded categories,” observed Passikoff, “This current survey is exclusively an American respondent group but there’s a whole world out there.”

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash.

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