Lessons from Donald Trump on marketing and market research.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson

Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing this post.  But as the world continues to grapple with the incomprehensible Donald Trump as President, we at EIM feel compelled to take a moment to reflect on how this debacle has put both marketing and market research under a microscope.

Be as it may, Trump is a brilliant marketer.  He knows exactly who his target is, has a crystal clear message, is authentic and, most importantly, he appeals to the deeper emotions of a large swath of the American public, overriding any rational thought.  We are, after all, emotional beings and there is no emotion more powerful than fear.

Now, the pollsters and big data people…how did they get it all wrong?!  Well, we know all research has a bluntness to it.  So there were a few things going on: 

  • It’s difficult to be accurate, that’s why a sample is called a ‘sample’. In a world of faster, cheaper research tools, did the pollsters use the right methodology to reach that lower income person in Kentucky or that Hispanic lady in Miami?
  • People don’t always tell the truth for fear of being judged
  • People can and do change their minds

As soon as you treat market research as a science and forget about the art, mistakes are made.  We are humbled by what happened at the polls and it’s a wakeup call for the research world to be more rigorous.

As for marketers, yes you can begrudgingly learn something from Donald Trump:  know your audience, their wishes, desires, hopes and fears and communicate with them in a way that’s clear and authentic.  But we hope you believe, like we do, in the power of positivity, optimism and hope.  Because at the end of the day, the cream always rises.