Did President Trump go too far with his Nordstrom tweet?

Discussion
Photo: Ali Shaker/VOA; Tweet: @realDonaldTrump
Feb 09, 2017
George Anderson

Donald Trump took to Twitter yesterday to call out Nordstrom for making the decision to delist his daughter Ivanka’s line of clothing from its stores and website.

Mr. Trump tweeted, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

The president failed to explain how Nordstrom’s decision was unfair, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a news briefing that Ms. Trump’s brand was being “targeted” because of opposition to her father.

While some interpreted Mr. Spicer’s remarks as a condemnation of Nordstrom, it’s possible he may have been referring to the “Grab Your Wallet” boycott of Trump brand products. The boycott was launched last year after an “Access Hollywood” video went public in which Mr. Trump was recorded speaking about women in demeaning terms.

Even if the latter explanation of Mr. Spicer’s comments were true, is he saying Nordstrom should stock Ms. Trump’s brand even if it is not selling?

Last November, a Nordstrom e-mail obtained by Fortune explained that the retailer had customers who wanted Ms. Trump’s line discontinued while others urged Nordstrom to continue selling the brand. Nordstrom’s e-mail offered its bottom line on the matter: “Every single brand we offer is evaluated on their results — if people don’t buy it, we won’t sell it.”

Yesterday, Nordstrom issued the following statement: “Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now. We’ve had a great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team. We’ve had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”

Nordstrom is not alone in recently delisting Ms. Trump’s brands. Belk, Neiman Marcus, Jet.com and ShopStyle have done the same, according to Fast Company. Macy’s delisted then-candidate Trump’s line of shirts and ties in 2015 shortly after he made remarks interpreted as disparaging of Mexican immigrants.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to Donald Trump’s criticism of Nordstrom for delisting Ivanka Trump products? Should advocate groups such as the National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association and other retailers make public statements supportive of Nordstrom and/or critical of the president?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This continuous stream of demeaning tweets is neither presidential nor reflective of key issues that confront this country."
"Retail and consumer spending are critical to our economy and if there is any force that can remain steadfast and even push back, it’s retail."
"What is clear is that brand loyalty will be either reinforced or eroded through increasingly political forces."

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33 Comments on "Did President Trump go too far with his Nordstrom tweet?"


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Jon Polin
BrainTrust

Um, is this not clearly why a president of the U.S. should disengage from his/her (and his/her family’s) business activities? As a citizen, I don’t care for the president to be distracted by what Nordstrom did or didn’t do to his daughter’s clothing line. And taking to Twitter to voice the concern to the American people? Yes, I’ll just say that the message is problematic and the medium is wrong and stop here. Boy am I excited to see other reactions to this question.

David Livingston
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

President’s relatives cashing in and trying to sell products used to be funny. Like Billy Beer. Now its political. Perhaps the president’s daughter should become a Democrat for marketing purposes. Being at odds with the father president seemed to boost Patti Reagan’s appeal.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Last week at the FFWD conference in Toronto, Jason Goldberg, SVP of commerce and content practice at SapientRazorfish illustrated his point that “The playbook for the enabled consumer is still being written” using the example “We were taught to not talk to strangers and to never get into a stranger’s car. Now we have UBER!” The President raises a dozen different questions about behavior.

Consumers at the same time are determining what they will believe, and Goldberg urged brands to focus on four areas of engagement including transparency, trust, social proof (i.e., ratings, reviews) and absolute value (i.e., tangible data reflecting performance).

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Business is business. If the product isn’t selling, you remove it from your stores, and no late-night Tweet from the dad of the face of the brand can change that. The man who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should get back to work.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

From what I understand, it wasn’t late night, it was at 10:50 a.m. during a security briefing. So, yeah.

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

As Donald Trump citizen, no problem; as president of the United States, inappropriate. As a seasoned and successful executive, I’m sure Ivanka is more than capable of defending herself and her business interests.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Do we really want to go there in this forum? What is my reaction to Donald Trump, period?

Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust

It is absolutely an abuse of power for President Trump to denounce Nordstrom. Legally he is navigating murky waters when he endorses or denounces businesses for personal reasons, especially when family financials and personal gain are involved. However, if anything President Trump’s tweets against Nordstrom have helped the brand more than hurt it. Nordstrom’s stocks are going up and there are many groups on social media encouraging its members to show support by shopping at Nordstrom. NRF or RILA could issue a statement supporting Nordstrom, but I don’t think it would make much of a difference.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Unfortunately, the President can not get out of his own tweeting way. This continuous stream of demeaning tweets is neither presidential nor reflective of key issues that confront this country. I recommend someone take away his phone or at least restrict his late night tweeting. He needs to act like the President of the U.S., not the president of Trump Enterprises or the host of Celebrity Apprentice.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

I was going to wait to see what level of political innuendo would be tolerated here on RetailWire — but what the heck. I noticed that Jon was able to “stop here” so maybe I can be as wise.

“Gone too far” can be applied on so many levels. With immigrants. With the disparagement of science, the environment, judicial system, financial de-regulation. With his career. This Nordstrom incident is beyond the pale, totally inappropriate. Let me be clear this has nothing to do with Republican-ism or with the Office of the President. It is 100 percent related to the man himself.

And, as we’re seeing, the explanation from Nordstrom reveals a rapidly fading brand at least as far as clothing goes. Bad.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Regardless of what Nordstrom says the reason for disengaging with the line is, the timing is everything. It sure looks and feels more like a lash out at the President. And let me just add that if I were President and had a child who was already a brand and was treated like that, I too would likely say “why are you treating my child like this? She didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t take your dislike for me out on her.” It does not mean that he is still engaged in his previous business activities. It means he’s a dad!

As much as I have always loved Nordstrom, this one doesn’t smell so innocent. Timing says a lot.

For my 2 cents.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Square footage in stores and D.C.’s is valuable. If it doesn’t sell, it’s out.

Worse, he a.) singled out Nordstrom and b.) retweeted from the official POTUS account. I think it’s a litigation waiting to happen.

It’s also incredibly embarrassing to me as an American.

John Hyman
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

“If it doesn’t sell, it’s out.” — Best quote of the day!

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Last time I checked, Nordstrom is a business. I hear that Mr. Trump has some familiarity with this concept. A business has to make money to survive and that means selling products that actually sell vs take up inventory. Has nothing to do with being fair or unfair.

Paula got it so right: “If it doesn’t sell, it’s out.”

Doesn’t get any simpler than that!

Jasmine Glasheen
Staff
Jasmine Glasheen
Contributing Editor
1 year 8 months ago

I’m also under the impression that he tweeted 21 minutes after his daily intelligence briefing was to take place.

Roger Saunders
BrainTrust
It is understandable that a father and mother would defend their offspring. Donald Trump’s position as U.S. President places him in a role where he would do well to defend his children in a different manner than a tweet. His adult children would do well to help the President understand that he is not helping their cause and credibility in the retail marketplace. For those on opposing sides choosing to pull a “boycott” against a retailer to send a message to the father … get a life. No need for the NRF to enter this fray. Peter Nordstrom clearly and productively pointed out the reason to discontinue the Ivanka Trump line. He stated, “All merchandise lines are evaluated on an ongoing basis. The bottom 10 percent of merchandise that impacts revenue/profitability, is discontinued each year.” That permits a new assortment to replenish it. Retailers, like Nordstrom, are attempting to satisfy consumer needs, support their associates’ interest in building loyalty with quality merchandise to help those consumers, provide consumers with quality, selection, service, convenience and a… Read more »
Max Goldberg
Guest

Trump has gone too far in his criticism of Nordstrom, demonstrating why traditionally presidents and their immediate families step away from any potential commercial entanglements before they assume office. Trump is emotionally unfit to be president and demeans the office with his Twitter rants.

Jasmine Glasheen
Staff
Jasmine Glasheen
Contributing Editor
1 year 8 months ago

To say Ivanka was “treated unfairly” is ludicrous. She was a huge part of Trump’s campaign and she and her husband continue to reap the benefits of her father’s presidency.

Nordstrom pulled Ivanka Trump’s line relatively late in the game for consumers influenced by #grabyourwallet. Still, Trump’s tantrum proves the #grabyourwallet movement successful. The American people are making their voices heard.

Should the NRF and Retail Industry Leaders Association make public statements on Nordstom pulling the Trump line? Donald Trump’s proposed immigration and import policies pose a huge threat to the retail industry. We depend on international trade. The more relationships Trump severs, the more difficult it will be for retailers to maintain their businesses.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

This issue should have been addressed ONLY by the business team that is now running the Ivanka brand and the retailer team responsible for the business decision. If I were Ivanka I’d be mad at Dad for butting in. This family is supposed to be business savvy, after all.

George Anderson
Staff

Nordstrom has been clear that its decision was based on the performance of Ivanka Trump’s brand alone and not a matter of politics. Other retailers, as noted in the article, have also delisted Ms. Trump’s products for the same reason.

As a candidate and now elected official, Mr. Trump has continually maintained that he will be the best jobs president ever. Does turning supporters against a particular company because of a perceived slight accomplish that goal or could it potentially put jobs at risk? What of the shareholders, particularly individual investors, who could be hurt by a downturn in the stock price?

Recent GOP economic orthodoxy has held that the government should not put itself in the position to determine winners and losers among industries or specific companies operating in the U.S. It has dragged out this argument often, for example, when it comes to the renewable versus fossil fuels debate. While Mr. Trump’s fatherly instincts may be understandable in this instance, they are also misplaced considering his position in the world.

J. Peter Deeb
Guest

My question is, if Ivanka Trump was notified in early January why is this coming out now? Did she not have a discussion with the President about the issue at that time? I would hope that all the companies that discontinued the line gave her people the facts about sales rate including Nordstrom. Most businesses deal in fact when it comes to product velocity. The waters are muddy my friends!

Tom Dougherty
BrainTrust

Nordstrom got a bigger boost from POTUS than they could from any advertising.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

Given that retail is, I don’t know, a hugely big thing (sorry, I’m still working on my Trump-speak) to our economy and this guy claims to be a business man, this is nothing more than another example of who he is.

It is not about his being a “dad.” That’s just communications office back-fill BS.

I would hope the NRF and Retail Industry Leaders Association make public statements and apply their lobbying muscle to push back. This won’t be the last time and they need to leverage their stance.

Retail and consumer spending are critical to our economy and if there is any force that can remain steadfast and even push back, it’s retail.

Naomi K. Shapiro
BrainTrust

Mr. Trump is the President.

Mr. Trump has a daughter.

If he feels that his daughter was slighted (even wrongly), can’t he express himself on this? Or just not through a president’s channels? It’s not fair to say that he, as President shouldn’t be able to express himself at all. And that, as Trump supporters and detractors alike will have to agree: that’s what makes Trump, Trump.

John Hyman
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Why are we discussing questions any rational retailer or consultant already knows the answer to? As a publicly-traded company, it is unlikely that politics trumped (pun intended) sales data. This is probably the least Presidential thing the man has done thus far … but, hey, that list is growing.

Brian Kelly
Guest
1 year 8 months ago
My reaction, as a retailer, is that this is a deal changer. My reaction, as a citizen, is that this is a serious breach of ethics. The Office of POTUS should not advocate for a private business held by the First Family. This is a matter for Congress or the DOJ. Social media has rewritten the rules of brand “sponsorship” and “corporate social responsibility.” From PETA, to religious affiliation (bathrooms/same sex marriage), to brands affiliated with POTUS or brands decried by the POTUS, shopper desire for personalization has fundamentally altered their relationship with the outlet brand. Because this is highly subjective (“beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”), I do not see an industry getting involved in this topic. Specifically in the case of the POTUS, the NRF has to prepare for the call from Trump to meet at the White House because the shift in trade policy potentially has the far greater impact upon retail than what store chooses to sell his kids’ goods. To me, any retailer should be allowed to sell… Read more »
Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Do we really want the POTUS engaging in this type of rhetoric? He was not elected for this; nor is it something we expected or appreciate. Ivanka is an adult clearly able to handle her own business matters. This decision by Nordstrom was not a surprise to her.

But what is more bothersome is the question of how much Mr. Trump has really divested himself from the “family business.”

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Based on anecdotal evidence over the past 18 months, many consumers are boycotting goods and services with the Trump name attached. It’s been reported that the family is developing a second hotel brand without the Trump name attached to it. So I’m assuming that both Nordstrom and TJX made rational business decisions based on weak sales.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It reminded me, in a very vague way, of when President Truman got into a spat over criticism of his daughter’s piano playing. Beyond that, consider the source. At some point either the media will tire of covering these antics or one of the victims will tell him to go and do something that isn’t anatomically possible, and they will cease (or they will get worse and we’ll have even more coverage … terrible, terrible). The NRF should deal with the adults in D.C., and over substantive matters.

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
1 year 8 months ago

We’ve all been hearing that “the rules no longer apply” and this is now more true than ever. Politics are increasingly inseparable from business and vice-versa, and that is largely due to the POTUS and his executive actions in his first few weeks. It’s not just Nordstrom either. Look at Uber and Lyft, where the former saw mass customer defection due to its CEO meeting with POTUS. And Nike and Under Armour, where the CEOs of each company have taken very different positions, with Mark Parker coming out clearly against the Executive Order on immigration and Kevin Plank coming out staunching supporting Trump.

We are only at the beginning and the longer-term ramifications are not yet understood. What is clear, however, is that brand loyalty will be either reinforced or eroded through increasingly political forces.

Karen McNeely
Guest

My first thought is, what would Trump do if he were in Nordstrom’s position? You can’t have it both ways, especially when you are POTUS.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
There are two main problems with the president’s actions. 1) using the official POTUS account to retweet something discussing a personal family matter that has no bearing on the nation whatsoever. That’s a complete misuse of authority and official government resource — now permanently saved in the presidential archives. 2) Since when is it the president’s job to interfere with merchandise assortment at a national retailer? Does he have the right to be upset about his daughter’s potential loss? Sure. Is he empowered to use his official position in the world stage to single out a brand and abuse them simply because he disagrees with their sound business decision? Absolutely not. Where does it stop? Next week, will we hear him disparaging the latest Ford vehicle design because someone in his family doesn’t think it’s pretty enough? That’s not a matter for government policy. NRF, RILA, others should either come out with a statement supporting Nordstrom for making their own internal business decisions in the best interests of their shareholders or at least request a… Read more »
Carlos Arambula
BrainTrust

I believe Trump has politicized a business decision. Consumers who know this will not listen to any critiques on the Nordstrom decision. Consumers who don’t know and believe Ivanka was treated unfairly were obviously not purchasing the brand at Nordstrom.

I don’t think trade groups need to get involved. Nordstrom handled the issue very well and given the amount of daily controversial statements by Trump, this will be obscured by some equally scandalous statement.

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Braintrust
"This continuous stream of demeaning tweets is neither presidential nor reflective of key issues that confront this country."
"Retail and consumer spending are critical to our economy and if there is any force that can remain steadfast and even push back, it’s retail."
"What is clear is that brand loyalty will be either reinforced or eroded through increasingly political forces."

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