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10/11/2016

Clinton Versus Trump in the Battle for Retail Tech

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
Joe Skorupa profile picture
10/11/16

By Joe Skorupa

At first, Donald Trump seemed the obvious choice to represent the retail industry in the White House, because he sells his own offshore-made products. But the more I thought about it the more I realized Hillary Clinton has good retail tech strengths, too, such as mad e-mail skills that few people knew she possessed. So, here are some criteria to consider when voting in November about who to select to represent retail in the White House for the next four years, god help us.
 
Since I don’t know enough about the third-party candidates to offer much insight (nor do they, apparently, beyond a narrow range of topics) I will leave them out of this election analysis.
 
So, here is a Clinton-versus-Trump analysis from a uniquely retail perspective:
 
Hillary Clinton
  • Cause Marketing: The Clinton Foundation has raised a ton of money for good causes around the world, skillfully tapping both domestic and foreign resources with tremendous success. Since it is likely The Clinton Foundation will need to suspend fund raising if Hillary is elected, perhaps her fundraising skills could be redirected toward the Retail Orphan Initiative?
  • Friendly with Wall Street: Maybe too friendly for some, but retail has always been a merger-and-acquisition game and relies on major financial firms as brokers and underwriters. Frenemies, maybe?
  • Global Expansion: The big retail chains, and small ones, too, are always looking for new markets and pathways to expand into EMEA and Pacific Rim countries. As a former Secretary of State, Hillary knows how to get around.
  • Tech Savvy: Wow! There has never been so much talk about tech in a Presidential election before thanks to Hillary’s use of servers and e-mail management. Hillary, clearly, relies on the strategic use of technology as does the retailing industry.

Donald Trump
  • Social Media Savvy: Donald Trump is one of the pioneers of new media, especially a high-volume Twitter feed. Retailers can learn a lot from Trump’s use of phone-in interviews, late-night Tweets, and live rallies.
  • Branding: Retailers are rightfully obsessed with branding, which is one of the keys to success in the marketplace, and so is Trump. In fact, Trump is a Zen master at self-branding and has made billions of dollars from his mastery. There are many lessons here retailers can learn.
  • Luxury Marketing: Trump knows luxury and his products are laser-focused on upscale shoppers, who exhibit steady spending habits in good economic times or bad. Beyond Trump's highly publicized lines of water, men’s suits, ties and wine, there are also Trump-brand fragrances, furniture, bedding, lighting and more. The lesson here for retailing is to stick to what you know and don’t dilute the brand.
  • Unified Commerce: This skill could also be called omnichannel 2.0, i.e. the ability to be everywhere at all times and then to tie everything back to the brand. For example, if the campaign needs a headquarters or a fundraiser make sure it is at a Trump property to tie it back to the brand. If gifts are needed to thank donors, make sure they are Trump products. Too many examples to fit in this space.
Although few commentators have elevated retailing to the top of the priority list during this year’s election cycle, I know for those of us in the industry retailing is never far from our thoughts. That said, please be sure to vote in November and vote for the candidate that at least in some small way can do the country some good. The country needs it.

BTW: I floated the idea a couple of months ago that Trump could be the first retailer to occupy the White House, but a friend noted Harry Truman was the first. Prior to the Presidency, he was a haberdasher and sold clothes.

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