Posts tagged Brand Positioning
Trump’s Brand Positioning One Year In

State of The POTUS - Text Analytics Reveals the Reasons Behind Trumps Approval Ratings

Over the past few weeks we’ve heard political pundits on all major news networks chime in on how Trump is doing one year after taking office. Part of the discussion is around what he has and hasn’t done, but an even bigger part continues to be about how he is perceived, both domestically and abroad, and some very grim opinion/approval polling is available. Many polls  have Trump as the President with the lowest approval ratings in history.

Sadly, Political Polling, including approval ratings, tells us absolutely nothing about the underlying causes for the ratings. Therefore, I thought I’d share our findings in this area. Utilizing our text analytics software, OdinText, we have been tracking not just sentiment related to Trump, but more importantly, the positioning of 40+ topics/themes that are important predictors of the sentiment.. In the brief analysis below, I will not have time to go into each of the attributes we have identified as important drivers, I will focus on a few of the areas which have seen the most change for Trump during the past year.

How has the opinion of Trump changed in the minds of the American people?

By looking at Trump’s positioning just before he took office (with all the campaign positioning fresh in the minds of the people), and comparing it to half a year into his office, and again now a full year into office, we can get a good idea about the impact various issues have on approval ratings and even more importantly, positioning.

Let’s start by looking back to just before he was elected. OdinText’s Ai uncovered the 15 most significant changes in perception since just before Trump won the election and now. Trump has fallen on 11 of these attributes and increased on 4.

Trump Pre Election Positioning VS One Year In

Tromp-Then-VS-Now.jpg

If we compare Trump just before the election VS Trump today, we several key differences. More recently four themes have become more important in terms of describing what Trump stands for in the minds of Americans when we include everyone (both those who like and dislike him). These newer positions are “Less Regulation”, “Healthcare Reform”, “Money/Greed”, and “Dishonesty”. Interestingly, text analytics reveals that one of the important issues seems to be changing, Trumps supporters are now more likely to be use the term “Healthcare Reform” rather than the previous “Repeal Obamacare”.

Other than the repeal of Obamacare issue, prior to the election, in the minds of Americans Trump was more likely to be associated with “Gun Rights”, “Honesty”, “Trade Deals”, “Change”, Supporting “Pro Life”, pro and con “Immigration” related issues including “The Wall”, and finally his slogan “MAGA” (Make America Great Again).

The decrease in relevance of many of these issues has to do with pre-election positioning, both by the Trump/Republican Party, as well as the Democrats Counter Positioning of him. After the election seemingly, some of these like ‘Gun Control’ have become less important for various reasons.

Five Months from Record Low

If we look at changes between this past Summer and now, there has been significantly less movement in terms of his positioning in American minds. He has seen a slight but significant bump in overall positive emotional sentiment/Joy, and the MAGA positioning as well as on Taxes, the economy, and The Wall, while also seeing a decrease in “Anger” and “Hate/Racism” which peaked this summer.

Trump-OdinText.jpg

His lowest point so far in the minds of Americans was during the August 12th, 2017 White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville. Trump’s positioning as a Hate Monger was almost as high as the weekend before the election, while simultaneously positive emotional sentiment and ‘MAGA’ among his supporters was at an all time low.

Since the August low Trump does appear to have rebounded some, and while one year into office many believe the one thing Trump now stands for is himself, greed and money are a lesser evil in America than hate and racism.

It seems that one year into office, at least for now, the economy and tax cuts are giving Trump a bit of a bump back to pre-election levels in the minds of many Americans.

I’m not sure what the future holds in this case, but I hope you like me found some of the underlying reasons for his approval ratings of interest. These are after all more important than simple ratings, because these reasons are levers that can be changed to affect the final outcomes and positioning of any brand, including that of a POTUS.

@TomHCAnderson

[Note: Curious if OdinText’s new Ai can help you understand what drives your brands ratings? Request more info or early access to our brand new release here]

Labor Day Text Analytics Poll™ Spells Trouble for Labor Unions

Text Analysis Reveals Fragile Positioning of Labor Unions in 2017 America Happy Labor Day to our U.S. OdinText Users and Friends!

Over the holiday weekend we thought we’d run one of our quick Text Analytics Polls™, which highlight how a single open-ended question can be used to very quickly and accurately generate deeper insights on almost any subject compared to conventional multiple-choice surveys (with fewer questions and at comparable speed and cost).

In honor of the holiday, we thought we would ask about labor—specifically organized labor unions. We asked 1,500 Americans: “What are your thoughts and impressions of Workers Unions?” The responses—again, people’s comments in their own words—were rapidly analyzed and quantified using the OdinText advanced analytics software platform and are reported below…

Indifference Even on Labor Day

odintext poll

The results suggest organized labor in America today is precariously positioned, with 60% of respondents indicating they are either indifferent (35%) or outright opposed to labor unions (25%).

The Why’s Behind the Sentiment

Unlike conventional multiple-choice surveys, using unstructured questions and text analytics in polling enables us to not only quantify opinions, but also the reasons behind those opinions.

text poll

Most of those in support of unions don’t feel the need to elaborate much. They simply state that labor unions are a great thing and/or mention that they or a family member belongs to a union. The top reasons provided among supporters is that labor unions are a “necessity” (8.7%) and that they protect workers’ rights (4%).

Interestingly, while those who oppose unions are fewer in number than those who support them (25% vs 40%), their reasons tend to be slightly more articulated, with the most popular being that unions are “no longer useful/necessary” (9.3%), and that they are often “corrupt” (4.1%) and “foster laziness” (3.3%).

Takeaways

Labor unions have been on a gradual decline in the US for some time, and OdinText’s analysis of these comments points to a serious positioning problem, which, if left unaddressed, will probably lead to continued decline and, ultimately, irrelevance.

As many respondents indicated they are indifferent about unions as those who support them.  In politics and in marketing, indifference (or lack of loyalty) can spell death, but it also presents an opportunity to persuade. The question then becomes who has stronger, more cogent messaging in place?

Proponents are not inclined to (or could not) offer much explanation for why they support organized labor; conversely, opponents in their responses tend to offer slightly more detailed explanations, with the most frequent being that labor unions are generally obsolete. The distance between indifference and opposition (“unions are obsolete”) in this case isn’t much. So the challenge facing organized labor in America may be to justify its very existence.

That this result came from a poll conducted over Labor Day weekend, I think, speaks volumes, too.

@TomHCAnderson

PS. If you would like to learn more about how easy, fast and powerful Text Analytics Polling with OdinText can be, feel free to join our live Webinar on the 14th.

PPS. Friendly reminder, today is also the last day for NGMR Award Nominations. Consider nominating a worthy company or colleague here.

*Note: n=1,500 responses were collected  9/1-9/3 2017 via Google Surveys which allow researchers to reach a validated U.S. General Population Representative sample by intercepting people attempting to access high-quality online content. Results are +/- 2.53% accurate at the 95% confidence interval. Data was analyzed using OdinText 9/3/17. Request more info on OdinText here.

 

ABOUT ODINTEXT  The leader in Text Analytics for Marketing Research, OdinText is a patented SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform for natural language processing and text mining. For more information or to request a demo, visit Get The Job Done With OdinText!

How Fear of Frexit Helped Macron Win the French Presidential Election
NEW Text Analytics PollTM Shows a Trump-Style Le Pen Upset May Have Been Averted by Overwhelming Opposition to a Frexit

Last week on this blog, I reported findings from a Text Analytics Poll™ of 3,000 French citizens showing that Marine Le Pen’s positioning going into the runoff looked remarkably similar to that of another recent underdog candidate, Donald Trump, just days before his stunning U.S. election upset.

Indeed, a similar set of circumstances appeared to be in play, as noted by the New York Times in an article on Election Day: “Populist anger at the political establishment; economic insecurity among middle class voters; public alienation toward mainstream political parties; rising resentment toward immigrants.”

Yet on Sunday, the French people elected Emmanuel Macron president over Le Pen by about 66/34. So why wasn’t the race closer?

The answer may be in data we collected from French and British respondents, which shows that the prospect of a Le Pen “Frexit” probably figured highly in Macron’s victory.

Positioning: Voting Against a Candidate

Our data in the French presidential poll were eerily reminiscent of data we collected prior to the U.S. election, which suggested a victory may not so much amount to an endorsement of one candidate as a rejection of the other.

Our analysis showed that first and foremost, the French associated Le Pen with bigotry and hatemongering, but text analysis also showed that among the French she was strongly positioned around immigration reform and putting France first—a platform that worked effectively for Trump, who had also been labeled a bigot in the minds of many Americans. In fact, the perception of Trump as a bigot was only slightly lower among Americans than the perception of Le Pen as a bigot among the French (11% vs 15%, respectively).

In contrast, respondents most frequently associated Macron with “liberalism”—meaning economic liberalism favoring free markets—followed by capitalism, neither of which is necessarily an asset in terms of positioning in French politics, particularly for a wealthy investment banker at a time when job security is a major concern among middleclass voters.

But the main platform issue that people associated with Macron—which trailed just behind people’s view of him as a proponent of free markets/capitalism—was Europe/EU, in stark contrast to Le Pen, who was well known to strongly favor an EU “Frexit.” The EU is also synonymous with the free movement of commerce and people, which, of course, stands in contrast to the dual protectionist/anti-immigration platform championed by Le Pen.

This, naturally, begged the question: How important is EU membership to the French population?

If the mood of the French electorate were anything like that of British Brexit voters, then favoring EU membership could be a liability. So just days ahead of the election we ran a second Text Analytics Poll—once again a single question—only this time we polled 3000 voters each in France and the UK:

  1. “What does the European Union mean to you?” (or “Qu'est ce que l'Union Européenne représente pour vous?” in French).

EU Membership Means “Hope”

It’s worth noting that turnout for this election was reportedly the lowest in 36 years. These were presumably voters who never would’ve cast a ballot for Le Pen, but who also could not be mobilized for Macron. In short, they were Macron’s to lose.

This new poll data helps explain why, in spite of inspiring lackluster confidence and support from anti-Le Pen voters, Macron nonetheless won the election by a sizable margin.

EU UK V FRANCE

While a significant number of the French tell us the EU means nothing to them, this is significantly lower than the Brits who say so.

Conversely, the French are more than five times as likely as Brits to say the EU means “Everything/A Lot” to them. The French are also far less likely than their UK counterparts to criticize the EU for corruption, wastefulness and such.

Instead, the French are extremely optimistic about the EU, with many indicating it provides “future hope” and keeps them out of wars and at “Peace” —something Brits are more likely to attribute to NATO.

High Positive Emotions for EU

Ultimately, emotions are what really drive behavior, and in the end, the French electorate’s highly positive emotional disposition toward the EU—notably their “Anticipation” and hopefulness—may have countered Macron’s relatively weak positioning in this election.

eMOTIONS TOWARD EU 2

Closing Thoughts

I read some responses to our original analysis that I’d characterize as emotionally overwrought. I understand that this is an occupational hazard for anyone conducting political opinion research, but our duty is to present and report objectively what the data tells us—even if what we’re seeing in the data isn’t necessarily pleasant.

The job of these polls was to assess the candidates’ brand positioning in the minds of voters, and to review the potential opportunities and threats in the “marketplace” as we would for any brand.

I want to stress that I am not discounting people’s distaste for Marine Le Pen’s perceived bigotry as being a key factor behind her loss in this election, but I’ll emphasize again that it was only slightly higher (15% vs 11%) than what we saw for Donald Trump, who, as you know, is now the President of the United States.

And at the end of the day, the hard truth is that more than a third of those who voted in this election voted for a right-wing nationalist—a candidate whose background makes Donald Trump look like a civil rights activist by comparison. Moreover, 25% of the electorate were not sufficiently affronted by Madame Le Pen’s politics to at least vote against her by voting for Macron; instead, they just abstained.

Like many people, I am relieved by the outcome of this election, but it seems clear from the positioning of both candidates—as reported by French citizens, unaided, in their own words—and the data on EU membership from our second poll that the French people did not simply reject Marine Le Pen because she is positioned as a racist/hatemonger; she was on the wrong side of Frexit.

@TomHCAnderson

*Note: n=3,000 responses were collected via Google Surveys 3/3-5/5 2017. Google Surveys allow researchers to reach a validated French General Population Representative sample by intercepting people attempting to access high-quality online content or who have downloaded the Google Opinion Rewards mobile app. Results are +/- 2.51% accurate at the 95% confidence interval.

Text Analytics Tips

About Tom H. C. Anderson Tom H. C. Anderson is the founder and managing partner of OdinText, a venture-backed firm based in Stamford, CT whose eponymous, patented SAS platform is used by Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Shell Oil to mine insights from complex, unstructured and mixed data. A recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research, Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as CASRO, ESOMAR and the ARF. He was named one of the “Four under 40” market research leaders by the American Marketing Association in 2010. He tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.

Text Analytics Reveals Potential French Election Upset

Text Analytics Poll Shows Le Pen Positioned to “Trump” Macron

To Americans following the French Presidential Election taking place in less than a week, it might appear as though recent history is repeating itself. And in many ways, it is.

Late last week we ran a Text Analytics Poll™ in France, and the results of our analysis bear a striking resemblance to those of an identical poll we ran in the US just a couple of days prior to the November 8 presidential election.

You may recall that in November, just a day before the US Presidential Election, we posted on this blog results from a Text Analytics Poll™ indicating that Hillary Clinton had a major positioning problem that could cost her the election, in contrast to conventional pollsters’ predictions that had almost universally and, it turns out, incorrectly forecast her winning by a sizable Electoral College margin.

Well, as was the case in our US poll, actual comment data from French respondents in their own words indicates a much, much closer race between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen than the 60/40 split pollsters have thus far predicted.

In fact, as of Sunday night when we closed this poll—exactly one week before the May 7 runoff election—Marine Le Pen looked a lot like Donald Trump.

About this Text Analytics Poll™

For this French election Text Analytics Poll™, we replicated our November US election poll, taking a French general population sample of 3,000, splitting it in half randomly, and asking each half the same single question, substituting only the candidate’s name:

“Without looking, off the top of your mind, what issues does [insert candidate name] stand for?”

We then machine-translated the responses and analyzed them using the patented OdinText software platform, which identified and quantified potentially important themes/ideas/topics in people’s comments and also qualified and quantified the emotions expressed in those comments.

We use this approach because we’ve found time and again that conventional quantitative survey questions—the sort used in political polls—are usually not terrific predictors of actual behavior.

We know that consumers (and, yes, voters) are generally not rational decision-makers; people rely on emotions and heuristics to make most of our decisions. Ergo, if I really want to understand what will drive actual behavior, the surest way to find out is by allowing you to tell me unaided, in your own words, off the top of your head. Oftentimes, we can accomplish this with one, well-designed question!

French Election Outsider vs. Reformer

Much as we saw in the US race, the French electorate appears to be in a decidedly anti-establishment mood. So it’s no surprise under the circumstances that both of the final contenders in the French presidential runoff could accurately be described as “outsiders,” but what voters may really be after is a reformer.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were both considered outsiders and reformers, although unlike Trump, who successfully hijacked the Republican nomination, Sanders failed to pull off a similar grassroots coup in the Democratic primary. As a result, US voters were faced with a choice between a reformer/outsider and an establishment candidate.

Le Pen has been a member of the French Parliament for more than a decade and she held elected office at the regional level before that. She’s also the scion of a famous political family and, more importantly, the former president of a prominent, albeit right wing, political party, the National Front (FN). Le Pen’s relative “outsider” status stems from the fact that the FN has historically promoted a nationalist agenda and was until recently viewed as outside of the political mainstream (and outside the two major coalitions that have alternated between control of the French government for the last 30-plus years).

Emmanuel Macron, too, is a relative outsider. He’s a former Minister of the Economy and founded the “En Marche”(“Forward!”) political movement in 2016, but he has never held elected office and, as of our poll, remains something of a mystery to potential French voters save for the fact that it’s well known that he made a fortune in investment banking.

Whatever you think of her politics, Le Pen clearly qualifies as a reformer, whereas Macron, while an outsider, appears to have a positioning problem around reform. Let’s take a closer look…

It’s All About Brand Positioning… Again

Whether you’re a corporation or a candidate for office, properly positioning your brand in the mind of your target is arguably the single most important part of the marketing process.

As I noted, our US poll back in November strongly suggested that Hillary Clinton was in more trouble than any of the other polling data to that point had indicated, and the problem was one of positioning relative to the competition.

Why?

- The #1 most popular response for Hillary Clinton involved the perception of dishonesty/corruption.

- The #1 and #2 most popular responses for Donald Trump related to platform (immigration, followed by pro-USA/America First), followed thirdly by perceived racism/hatemongering.

Again, I’ll emphasize that these responses were not selected from a list of possible choices, but top-of-mind and unaided from voters in their own words.

What the comment data revealed was that Donald Trump’s campaign messaging was very focused around a two issues—immigration and protectionism—and had been effective in galvanizing voters to whom these positions appealed; Hillary Clinton’s messaging was relatively scattered across a variety of issues, and therefor diluted, which made it difficult for voters to identify her with a key issue they could rally around.

And while an alarmingly high proportion of responses to our question were for both candidates emotionally-charged character attacks, the negative emotional disposition toward Hillary Clinton was actually higher than for Donald Trump. In other words, the dislike among people who disliked Hillary Clinton outweighed the dislike among people who disliked Donald Trump. This probably had little to do with Trump campaign messaging—although they certainly capitalized on it—and was more a reflection of the fact that Hillary Clinton had been highly visible and active in national politics for decades and was already positioned in the minds of voters.

How does this relate to what we see in the French Election data?

The chart below depicts responses from the French to our single question after being analyzed by OdinText and sorted by prevalence of topics/themes (coded red for Macron and blue for Le Pen).

FrenchElection1.png

First, it’s important to note that there are inherently fewer issues with which politicians can differentiate themselves in French politics than there are in US politics. For example, issues like abortion, education, healthcare, gun ownership, etc., in France are not hotly contested as they are in the States.

In France—like most European countries in the post-Brexit era—political debate centers primarily around economics internally and in relation to other countries (i.e. the EU), security, and, importantly, immigration.

Here, Le Pen’s positioning is unmistakable, as she was frequently associated with immigration, which works in her favor among those who view immigration as a problem. The issue is tied to security, as well, and given the 2015 Paris attacks, the heightened fear about terrorism coupled with domestic economic concerns could lead voters who might have been historically more sympathetic to pro-immigration platforms to actually vote for Le Pen.

That said, like Hillary Clinton, Marine Le Pen is well known to the French, and already positioned in their eyes. Although she has taken steps to soften the perception, respondents to our poll most frequently said she stands for racism/hate/xenophobia, which does not bode well for her candidacy in socially liberal France.

Macron, by contrast, remains a relative enigma to the French people. Almost twice as many French people said they aren’t sure what Macron stands for compared to Le Pen. In fact, Macron is not tied to any standout platform or issue of importance to the French, whereas Le Pen is positioned as a reformer on immigration to an electorate that, again, is not enamored with the status quo.

Moreover, respondents most frequently associated Macron with “liberalism,” followed by capitalism, which are nearly the same. Indeed, I put liberalism in quotes here to make a very important distinction that might have otherwise been lost on Americans who are not familiar with French politics: Liberalism in France actually refers to economic liberalism favoring free markets—almost the opposite of how the term is used in US politics!

Neither liberalism nor capitalism are necessarily assets in terms of positioning in French politics, particularly for a wealthy investment banker at a time when job security is a major concern among voters. Macron has campaigned as a centrist, stating emphatically that ideologically he is neither left nor right, but our data suggests that he is positioned in the minds of the French as something of a neo-conservative and perhaps an elite. Indeed, the Le Pen campaign has been feeding this positioning and tying it to fears about globalization undermining the economic security of the French people.

We do see in the data that Le Pen’s positioning of Macron as a capitalist “sell-out” and instrument of status quo globalists has achieved some success, but it may be too little too late. While 7.8% of the French in our poll view Macron as capitalist/money man, nearly twice as many describe Le Pen as a hatemongering racist (15.3%).

Ironically, we noted in our US poll that Donald Trump was also described as a racist by more than 10% of Americans just days before the election; however, more than 12% of Americans said that Hillary Clinton was dishonest/“crooked.”

The combined chart below shows how both the French and the American candidates appeared in the eyes of respondents from their respective countries. (Again, note that “liberal” for Macron does not mean fiscal or socially liberal as it does in the context of US politics, but refers to free-market economic liberalism.)

French Election 4

French Election 4

Final Analysis

This upcoming election is actually runoff, and the opponents have basically two weeks to position one another. To this point, the job of defining one’s opponent was much trickier because there were five candidates in the race. In US politics, obviously, candidates have a lot more time to cement positioning against a single opponent.

But French campaign strategists are accustomed to operating within this short timeline. The Macron campaign has enjoyed an advantage in that negative positioning around Le Pen was already firmly in place, whereas Macron was relatively unknown. Conversely, the Le Pen campaign now has a huge opportunity to negatively position Macron as an instrument of global bankers and the status quo and to sway voters with a message of protectionism and security at a time when both have high appeal.

French-Election-3.png

The wild card here is the EU. An EU “Frexit” is generally accepted to be less appealing among the majority of French, and although Le Pen has been softening her rhetoric, she is known to strongly favor leaving the EU. Macron, however, is most assuredly opposed to a Frexit, and the data show that respondents understand this difference.

Much like we saw in the US election results foreshadowed by our own polling data, a victory in this election may not so much amount to an endorsement of one candidate as a rejection of the status quo. And of the two candidates, Le Pen is better positioned as the reformer. She could yet ride a wave of populism that Macron is not equipped to tap into.

In short, do not be surprised if Marine Le Pen pulls off a Trump-style upset in the French Presidential Election. The data strongly suggest she is positioned to do so!

@TomHCAnderson

*Note: n=3,000 responses were collected via Google Surveys 4/24-4/30 2017. Google Surveys allow researchers to reach a validated French General Population Representative sample by intercepting people attempting to access high-quality online content or who have downloaded the Google Opinion Rewards mobile app. Results are +/- 2.51% accurate at the 95% confidence interval.

Text Analytics Tips

Text Analytics Tips

About Tom H. C. Anderson Tom H. C. Anderson is the founder and managing partner of OdinText, a venture-backed firm based in Stamford, CT whose eponymous, patented SAS platform is used by Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Shell Oil to mine insights from complex, unstructured and mixed data. A recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research, Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as CASRO, ESOMAR and the ARF. He was named one of the "Four under 40" market research leaders by the American Marketing Association in 2010. He tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.