His campaign has been described as a “troll candidacy“. News agencies like the WSJ and The New York Times are proffering up different theories on why Donald Trump is turning out to be the leading Republican presidential candidate.
If you think as a media-savvy property tycoon with a net worth of USD 4 billion, Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, you would be dead wrong. Trump has been leveraging his brand to his advantage throughout his campaign.
Here are the 5 reasons why Trump is leading the polls:
1. He’s different
Ever since declaring his candidacy, Trump has accused Mexicans of being rapists and criminals, said Vietnam War veteran John Cain was “no war hero“, refused to eat Oreos, and been embroiled in “#PeriodGate“.
One thing is for sure: Donald Trump is not interested in being politically correct at all. He has eschewed the “politician” label, and went out of his way at the Iowa State Fair to bend the unspoken rules of acting like a commoner by arriving on a private helicopter.
In his book, Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout argues that brands would have to be radically different to survive in the marketplace. Trump is doing that by playing the non-politician in the political arena, and it seems to be working out really well for him. Many voters have expressed how he feels like a breath of fresh air after many years of political gridlock between the Republicans and Democrats.
2. He’s well-known to the masses
Can brand awareness ever be underestimated? Trump with his floppy hair, business empire and hit television series The Apprentice is a household name, to the extent that a marketer in Singapore is now writing about him.
Voters feel like they know who Trump is because he is a celebrity. Studies have shown that brand awareness reduce perceived risk and impacts people’s consumer behaviour positively (Moisescu, O. I., 2009). A similar effect is probably happening here where voters are more willing to cite Trump in polls despite vague policy statements because he has been a familiar face all these years.
3. He’s Authentic
…Or at least pretends to be.
Donald Trump is the modern equivalent of the American Cowboy, guns blazing, saying things that voters secretly think in their heads but don’t vocalise because political correctness. He has crafted an oppositional media personality that is all about offending people and not giving two hoots about it. Because of this, he comes across as being a real person instead of a politician hiding behind always saying the right things.
In marketing, Authenticity has long been lauded as an important value, especially with the advent of social media. I have written previously about how consumers have been looking to social networks and friends for product reviews instead of blindly trusting advertising messages from corporations. Brands that are authentic inspire trust and are shown to drive more sales.
4. He’s Entertaining
Undoubtedly, I am sure many Republicans are just voting for Trump just to see how far he goes. There is a certain Schadenfreude in seeing how he makes all these outrageous statements week in, week out. A clear proof of this voter behaviour is the poll results for “Deez Nuts“, a satirical presidential candidate who polled at around 8%.
In the social/digital world, brand engagement has become an important metric for marketers to understand how whether consumers are interacting favourably with their brand. By dominating the media with his antics, Trump has made sure that voters are engaged with him all the way. The question is whether he would be able to maintain such levels of engagement for the next one year.
5. He’s Low Consideration
Related to the last point, I think many voters still don’t care enough about the elections yet to poll seriously. The U.S. elections are a year away, and decisions right now will not matter much in the future.
This is a classic demonstration of low consideration consumer behaviour. That iTunes track is only 99 cents? I’ll take it. What? That car costs 20K? No thanks. Once voters feel the stakes when elections draw near, the sentiment might very well turn against Mr. Trump.
There you have it. The 5 reasons why Donald Trump is leading the polls right now. With that said, marketing counts for very little if your product can’t live up to the hype. Is Donald Trump right as President of the United States? Only the people of the U.S. can decide that.
What did you think of this post? Do you agree? Drop me a comment to let me know.