Saturday, June 11, 2016

If US presidential elections were a market segment and Donald Trump a brand. How would you analyze marketing campaign, customer behavior, and brand performance??? Let us try. 06-11

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If US presidential elections were a market segment and Donald Trump a brand. How would you analyze marketing campaign, customer behavior, and brand performance??? Let us try.

Brand Trump is a well-known and leading commercial brand in the world. Will it also help win the presidency????

It is unprecedented in the history of American presidential elections. A person who hates one section of the mankind, makes emotional outburst and disparaging remarks against women, goes on to win Republican primaries and become Presumptive GOP Presidential nominee.   Jeb Bush said “You can’t insult your way to presidency”. But Donald Trump has exactly done that, and still won the primaries.

However, Brand Trump winning the Republican primaries is not an accident. In case it is, then it is a well-planned, scheduled and deliberate accident. I am sure, everything he said including his seemingly extempore temporal outbursts were pre-scripted as per plan. "The world of commerce has never seen a brand insult its way to market share leadership"

The intensity of the stimulus was carefully planned to get the audience reflexes (both positive and negative) that would occupy media space and make Brand Trump not only hugely recognizable, but also a subject of constant debate. In this carefully maneuvered exercise, Trump garnered four million worth of free media exposure. This perhaps is one the rarest of rare occasions when a brand has self-financed it marketing campaign, albeit partially.

Trump deliberately did not accept the data provided by his party. He had his own research team that seems to have had an in-depth study into the customer behavior. The team seems to have identified the areas of dissatisfaction among the Americans with the policies of the past presidents from both parties. The subsequent USP of “Make America Great Again” more or less mirrors the aspirations and disappointments of an average American. While it can be called an exercise of encashing people’s emotions, I consider it as an excellent, relevant and reverberative brand strategy.

Brand Trump was excellently positioned to attract a segment of voters who had less then layman’s knowledge about governance, politics, and policies. The problem isn’t that voters in this segment are too uninformed. It is that they don’t know just how uninformed they are. This is known as ‘Dunning Kruger Effect’, which means the knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task. This includes political judgment. Most of the time they are misinformed—their heads filled with false data, facts and theories that can lead to misguided conclusions held with tenacious confidence and extreme partisanship, perhaps some that make them nod in agreement with Trump at his rallies.

This syndrome may well be the key to the Trump voter—and perhaps even to the man himself. Trump has served up numerous illustrative examples of the effect as he continues his confident audition to be leader of the free world even as he seems to lack crucial information about the job. In a December debate he appeared ignorant of what the nuclear triad is. Elsewhere, he has mused that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons—casually reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy.

In voters, lack of expertise would be lamentable but perhaps not so worrisome if people had some sense of how imperfect their civic knowledge is. If they did, they could repair it. But the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests something different. It suggests that some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes. They fail to recognize those gaffes as missteps.

Now his contest with most likely democrat nominee Ms. Clinton is an altogether different ball game. While Ms. Clinton with her experience as Secretary of State is more specific while talking about the policies, and governance. Donald Trump approach is very generic sometimes even obscure. An excellent example has been given by a professor of marketing. He says,

“Imagine you are looking at a box of Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes. Clinton would prefer you read the nutrition label and make an informed decision. Trump wants you to fall in love with Tony the Tiger and forget the product details.”

The obscurity and ambiguity in Trump’s approach when it comes governance and policy actually provides a lot of space for the voters to paint Trump’s image and deliverables according to their own imagination. There will be different Trumps promoted by different voters. Brand Trump will mean different things to different people. But, it doesn’t matter so long as votes keep pouring.

The basic question for us marketers is, Can the brand Trump outgrow the limitations imposed by the man trump?? Will the brand trump which creates magic in construction, selling hotel rooms and Airlines, create similar waves in politics? If brand Trump can project convincing superiority on those issues like jobs and national security that voters view as the most important, the outrageous comments may be overlooked if not forgiven.

The general feeling among the political intelligentsia is that Trump has to soften his tone, and moderate his views to put together a winning coalition. But even if such adjustments were psychologically possible, an abrupt change could be dismissed as inauthentic. Hispanics, Muslims and women already know what the Trump brand thinks of them and might see any corrections in tone or policy as pandering. At the same time, a softer tone might weaken the enthusiasm of Trump's core supporters.

Interestingly commercial brand trump has ownership by the consumers and needs their votes daily for survival and growth, the political brand trump needs votes of his supporters only on one day every four years for two terms. However commercial brand Trump can do with even minority stakeholders support for some time. Political Brand trump has to get the majority support on that one day nothing less than that will do.

As I said earlier, the presidential elections will be a totally different ball game. It would be interesting to see what game plan team Trump has for this contest.

Please come with your views and if possible your own objective analysis of the brand Trump. You can even come with up new angle. I am eagerly waiting for your valuable inputs.

Best wishes,


Note: This article has been built based on the vast data available on media, including electronic, print and social media. I gratefully acknowledge their help.

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