There is a growing list of retail outlets that are choosing to no longer carry Trump brand products, or in some cases no choosing to promote the brand.
In this case we’re speaking to Ivanka Trump’s products. The President has unsurprisingly been very vocal about the lines choosing to part ways with his daughter’s products, resorting to his typical Twitter rants on the matter. As the President, the things Donald Trump “tweets” can have a profound impact, and his comments about Nordstrom caused a dip in their stock value. Spicer tried to re-frame this as a father sticking up for his daughter, but that hardly holds water when we consider that: 1) Ivanka Trump is a grown woman and business leader, fully capable of defending her own products; 2) Ivanka has claimed to step back from her business role; 3) business decisions regarding product lines are not personal attacks, and; 4) Donald Trump is the President of the United States and as such should not be getting involved in what product lines individual stores choose to carry. His public reactions and comments have a predictable influence on business performance, making his claimed concern for his daughter look far more like deliberately using his position to attempt to influence financial outcomes for his family’s business interests. This is a significant problem. (Though, his Twitter tirade is not as obvious an ethics violation as later comments by Kellanne Conway, who very overtly and deliberately used her position to promote Ivanka’s products.)
President Trump seems to interpret these recent business decisions as politically based attacks against him and his family. That could be the case, but the business chains are claiming poor product performance for the decisions to either stop carrying or stop emphasizing Trump products. The latter seems the most likely, as there was several discussions in various media sources last year about the potential impact of Trump’s campaign on the marketability of his brand. The partisanship and vitriol of the campaign was nearly certain to impact brand viability, with NPR last April running a story on the topic. The article referenced a BAV Consulting survey that suggested “Trump’s brand is suffering. He says people used to associate Trump with being upper-class and glamorous. Now high-income people in particular are more likely to hold him in low esteem, to find him polarizing and dislikable.” Politico reported in October that, while some portions of the business were faring well enough, other aspects were taking a hit, likely based on campaign statements by and about Donald Trump.
Ultimately, Trump himself is responsible for any negative impacts on his family business reputation. His divisive, bigoted, misogynist rhetoric from the campaign is absolutely unacceptable to some. Whether the mechanism is individual consumers refusing to give his family money, or businesses no longer wishing to be associated with his personal reputation, the outcome is the same; fewer customers wish to patronize his establishments or purchase his family’s products. Twitter rants only make it worse.
It would be better for his presidency and his business if he were to actually divest himself from all of his private business interests.