What the American Consumer and the American Voter Have in Common

In the last 24 hours I’ve seen half a dozen Facebook statuses asking why people are voting for Donald Trump. If you’ve made the effort to stay even the least bit informed, then you’re aware Trump continues to rise in the polls, despite the warnings of other conservatives and liberals alike.

Let me start by saying this is not a post endorsing one candidate or bashing another. I, too, have been baffled by Trump’s success and have asked the same question I’ve seen roaming around Facebook and in the news. I started reading some of the responses and content Trump supporters are producing and discovered a common theme.

Most of the responses I’ve read sound something like this: “I’m voting for Trump because I feel I know what I’m getting. He puts it all out there and isn’t making empty promises or using political jargon to win others over.”

It seems to me like America is tired of politics and all that comes with it. And in a desperate effort to cling to authenticity, voters seem willing to abandon some of their values and ideals.

That may sound harsh, but what the polls tell me is that people are looking for someone to tell the truth and start being themselves. To many voters, Trump is just that – they feel as though they won’t be surprised or disappointed by voting for him. Instead, they know exactly who he is and what he offers.

As this thought dawned on me, I remembered researching consumer trends for an article I wrote a few months back. One of the most interesting things I studied was the American consumer’s search for brand authenticity.

Stay with me for a moment and allow me to share a practical example. Several years ago one of the top classic American brands, J. Crew, bought Madewell, a similar clothing company produced in the U.S. In an effort to streamline their production process, J. Crew started manufacturing Madewell clothing overseas. This created some push back from Madewell supporters, who argued the authenticity of the brand had been compromised.

Dan Nosowitz, the grandson of Madewell’s founder, was quoted in an article published by Buzzfeed saying “How many corporations are out there rifling through the defunct brands of America’s past like a bin of used records, looking for something, anything, that will give them that soft Edison-bulb glow of authenticity?” (Source: New York Times)

The presidential campaign and clothing companies may not have much in common, but the search for the “soft Edison-bulb glow of authenticity” remains present in both. The American consumer is looking for brands and products that are authentic, true and real. In the same way, Americans are looking for leaders who will display similar qualities.

I’m not saying Trump is the answer to this plea for and market shift toward authenticity (in fact, I plan not to vote for him), but I do believe there’s something we can learn from Donald Trump and a majority of American voters – more people are attracted to raw honestly than a showy display of words and grand promises, so we might as well learn to put it all on the table no matter the risk. 

Regardless of where your political allegiance lies, take note and maybe even choose to take steps toward authenticity in your own life. Are you brave enough to put it all on the table?