Is There A Trump Consumer?

Everyone now knows that there are Trump voters. But are there Trump consumers? Brad Edmondson analyzes the link between the voting booth and the supermarket.

Brad Edmondson
Is There A Trump Consumer?
February 2017
 
Donald Trump was elected President by winning in Rustbelt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  The pundits say that voters in these states were angry. They turned out in big numbers, and that gave him their electoral votes.  
 
The 63 million Americans who voted for Trump were likely to be white and over the age of 50, but that was not a surprise.  Republican candidates always do well there.  Trump won because of unusually strong support from two other groups: men, and people who do not have a college education.
 
I am not a political columnist.  I'm a demographics guy. What's interesting to me is that these two groups have something big in common.  They are both getting clobbered by the job market.
 
Men hold 70 percent of all jobs in manufacturing.  America has lost more than one-quarter of its manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years.  Wisconsin ranks second among the states for the percentage of jobs in manufacturing. Michigan is third, and Pennsylvania is above the national average.  Men are also most of the workers in mining and several other industries that have not been doing well. So if a candidate tells guys in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that the job market is lousy, it's often true for them.
 
It is also true that America's overall economic picture is good right now.  But the outlook is much brighter for people who have college degrees than it is for those who don't, and this education gap is widening.  Back in 1979, when the oldest baby boomers were the same age that Millennials are today, the typical college graduate earned 30 percent more than a high school graduate did.  Today, the average college grad earns 62 percent more than a high school grad.  
 
A lot of men who lost a good manufacturing job during the recession are now holding down two or more low-paying jobs just to make ends meet. A lot of women who didn't go to college are in the same predicament. Many of these folks cannot afford to go to school or can't find the time for it. 
 
What does this mean to retailers and store brands. It means that for all the talk about self-indulgence, about upscale products and upscale stores, there is a large segment of consumers for whom price is very important and store brands can build a loyal base with products that help their families.
 
One more thing to keep in mind, too. These consumers are very concerned about America. A recent survey by Consumers Reports found that most Americans prefer to buy U.S.-made goods and say that they would be willing to pay more for them. So you may want to put that in your marketing mix the next time you analyze what shoppers want.
 
I'm Brad Edmondson for PLMA Live.
 
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