If there is anything Donald Trump loves tweeting about more than unveiling his administration’s policy, pointed military threats, and crowd sizes, it is weighing in on brands. From Amazon to Toyota, Samsung to L.L. Bean, Trump has seemingly offered his (more than) two cents about brands in just about every industry.
The effect of a Trump tweet on a brand’s performance has not been clearly determined. However, his company-related tweets drive discussion about how consumers should interact with the brand. Boycott or support? People also speculate about the company’s future, discussing its stock performance and profitability.
By looking at social media data, we unearth reactions to Trump’s endorsement or denouncement of brands and unveil conversations on the complicated relationship between Trump and brands.
Death of a Brand
The volume of social media conversation on Trump’s impact on brands depends on when Trump tweets about a brand. In January, Trump tweeted a thank you note about L.L. Bean heir Linda Bean’s support.
Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
His tweet ignited a Twitter firestorm. Some people called for boycotting L.L. Bean, calling Trump’s endorsement an ethics violation.
Trust me, yr endorsement is not a plus for Ll Bean.
— mrs panstreppon (@mrspanstreppon) January 12, 2017
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics had to reprimand you on for LL Bean endorsement. Sad, Just how stupid are you
— David Garner (@dgarner7871) January 14, 2017
From February to April, Trump kept a relatively low profile (by his standards) for his brand-related tweets. In February, people discussed ditching Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for speaking out on supporting Trump.
— Neal Masri (@nealmasri) February 8, 2017
In March, Ford CEO James Hackett stood with Trump to scale back on clean car standards, leaving some consumers concerned about emissions.
In April, conversation on dumping Amazon resurfaced.
— Brian Harris (@HARRISBJ) April 23, 2017
They say April showers bring May flowers, but instead, the showers unleashed a May flurry of furious brand-related tweets. In the span of one month, Trump entangled himself with Cisco and Ford cutting jobs, raged at Rexnord for moving jobs to Mexico, positioned himself as anti-net neutrality, bringing technology companies like Amazon and Apple into discussion, and visited Saudi Arabia, triggering discussion about Boeing and GE’s stock performance.
Didn’t see Trump tweet about Ford’s plan to can 1,400 yesterday. And there’s always a 2nd quarter bounce / 1st quarter lull. 🙄
— B. Jones (@ChickEvansMSU04) May 18, 2017
Stock market tanks. Cisco cutting jobs. Ford cutting jobs. Thanks traitor @realDonaldTrump, you didn’t tweet about these.
— SO-CALLED Pres Trump (@nylgk) May 18, 2017
Every US company should quit buying from Rexnord
See how that affects their cost savings program….
— The Bear (@TheOregonBear) May 7, 2017
GE ($GE) & Boeing ($BA) stock may be impacted with Trump-Saudi visit on Monday
— M Kucala, MST MBA (@MKucala) May 21, 2017
The top-mentioned Twitter handles span a wide range of companies, from apparel to automotive to technology. The L.L. Bean kerfuffle generated the most company mentions.
45 percent of the discussion about Trump’s impact on brands say that people overestimate his influence. This can go in two directions: positive or negative. Those who defend Trump see Trump’s lack of impact on brands as a positive attribute, pushing back against people who say that a Trump tweet to endorse a brand leads to that brand’s downfall. Those who view Trump association as detrimental say that the fact that Trump’s endorsement doesn’t harm a brand is disappointing, expecting otherwise.
26 percent say that a Trump endorsement for a brand leads to that brand’s stock plummeting. While 24 percent discuss stocks rising, some people attribute a company’s stock rising due to Trump denouncing the company.
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— Ashley Gallardo (@_ashsaysno) February 20, 2017
Boycotting brands that Trump supports comprises 23 percent of the discussion. The #grabyourwallet campaign that took off in February remains relevant in the months that followed, as people called to boycott Trump-affiliated brands.
@Ford Matthew McConaughey endorsing Donald Trump is despicable. I am going to encourage every one I know to boycott your company.
— Resist (@SDSunchaser) February 2, 2017
When Trump endorsed LL Bean, people called that an ethics violation, abusing his platform to advertise brands.
— Kim Ralston (@kimsportsmom) January 13, 2017
8 percent say that Trump’s tweets at brands are simply a distraction from the important issues. His tweets about Amazon being a tax-evading monopoly, for example, coincided with the Senate health care bill vote on July 25.
Who Are the Consumers?
The vast majority of those discussing Trump’s impact on brands is male. Males make up 73 percent of the discussion, while females make up 27 percent.
Older people are more invested in this discussion. 81 percent of the conversation comes from those 35 and above and 13 percent comes from those 25-34 years old. The younger age brackets, 18-24 years old and 17 and below, make up 6 percent of the conversation.
Looking at the social media conversation on Trump’s effect on brands helps cut through the confusion, understanding how politics impacts consumers’ purchasing decisions.