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Marketplace Morning Report

Is the Trump brand transitioning or dying?

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Oct 13, 2016
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Campaign buttons and hats are for sale outside a campaign rally by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Henderson Pavilion in Henderson, Nevada.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump is a walking, talking human brand. When he sneezes, the brand catches a cold. Robert Passikoff, president of the research firm Brand Keys, can pinpoint exactly when the Trump brand started to suffer.

“The minute he became the designated candidate for the GOP,” he said. “That was when the real damage began.”

At that point, more consumers started taking seriously Trump’s comments about Muslims, Mexicans and now women.

Passikoff’s firm measures added value. That is, how much more you can charge for a product because of the Trump brand. He said stores used to sell a Trump dress shirt for $80. Now?

“They might have to reduce the price to $65,” he said.

And it’s not just shirts. People pay Trump a licensing fee to put his name on all kinds of things, like suits and watches. Trump hotels will suffer too as conference organizers ask themselves:

“What does that make me look like in front of my friends?” said Richard Swain, director, brand experience at the firm Huge Inc. “Or make my company look like in front of our clients?”

Then again, other marketing experts say the Trump brand is just transitioning, and Trump still has a core group of very committed supporters who will buy his stuff.

“So, his clothing line, his Trump University – these are all things that are in fact targeted at people who dream of being well off,” said Jonathan Salem Baskin, president of Arcadia Communications Lab.

Salem Baskin said all brands have to change, and the Trump brand is just evolving in a very surprising way.

Marketplace reached out to the Trump campaign for comment, but it didn’t immediately respond.

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