Liquid Luck or Toxic Trump?

Assessing the social media conversations of Trump's effect on brands

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.

His tweet ignited a Twitter firestorm. Some people called for boycotting L.L. Bean, calling Trump’s endorsement an ethics violation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

When Trump endorsed LL Bean, people called that an ethics violation, abusing his platform to advertise brands.

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.
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