If Ivanka Trump thought becoming first daughter was going to help elevate her lifestyle brand, she can think again. Not only are her sales in the toilet, but at least one brand expert doesn’t seem to have a lot of faith in its future.
Carol Spieckerman is a global retail expert. She says Ivanka’s brand is in trouble because her target customers are women, and many women find Donald Trump’s comments about them pretty abhorrent. The most recent Quinnipiac poll found Trump has a paltry 36% approval rating among women. (His approval rating among men is only slightly higher, at 41%.)
“The lifestyle branding premise behind Ivanka’s label is in jeopardy,” Spieckerman tells the Telegraph. “The women’s marches put the stake in the ground but arguably were survivable. Ongoing controversies surrounding her father’s actions will continue to impact Ivanka’s brand, though.”
But even for those who aren’t turned off by Ivanka’s dad’s behavior, or Ivanka’s complacency with it, the first daughter is doing other things to confuse her customers. Specifically, she hijacked its official Instagram page.
Rather than building her own Instagram following, Ivanka simply took her brand’s page, which had an impressive 3.2 million followers, accumulated over several years, and turned it into her own personal page. That means anyone who followed the brand to see what new items the line was promoting are now confronted with random pictures of Ivanka’s dad, kids, and the goings-on inside the White House. Meanwhile, the Ivanka brand had to start back from scratch with an entirely new Instagram page.
Then, of course, there are unhelpful aggressive tweets like this from her father:
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
The tweet drew unwanted attention to the brand as it forced Nordstrom to respond by saying the reason it was dropping Ivanka was because nobody was buying her stuff anymore. Shortly after that, the Wall Street Journal came out with a report that sales were down an alarming 70%.
The situation was further aggravated when Kellyanne Conway violated government ethics rules by urging TV viewers to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” resulting in even more negative attention, and causing other retailers to jump of the #DumpIvanka bandwagon, including Neiman Marcus, Gilt, ShopStyle, Sears, Kmart, and the Home Shopping Network.
“These controversial endorsements from polarizing figures like Kellyanne Conway, and the tweets from her father about her brand, undoubtedly have caused more damage [than good],” Spieckerman explains. “Ivanka may have technically distanced herself from the brand but the optics around her ongoing connection to her father, to include pictures of her in various parts of the White House, reinforce the link and in the end, the brand backlash.”
So what happens next?
“Ivanka could attempt to take her brand in another direction after Donald Trump leaves office,” Spieckerman says, hesitantly, “but she will have many headwinds to fight until that happens.”
The question is, can she even withstand those headwinds? Or will her brand meet the same fate as so many of her father’s failed business ventures?