Most, if not all, of the focus on the so-called “convention bounce” coming out of the political conventions in the last few weeks has been focused on Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s presidential election polling numbers. While reports are pretty clear that Clinton received the bigger convention bounce in terms of her polls, I wanted to look at another impact of the convention. Specifically, I was interested in searches for each candidate’s merchandise—you know: bumper stickers, t-shirts, hats and, of course, yard signs. While a vote for a candidate running for election can be compared to a type of transaction, the act of acquiring—and in most cases actually paying for—a piece of merchandise emblazoned with a candidate’s name or campaign message is a more literal transaction and could point to the underlying degree of support that exists for a particular candidate.
According to data that I crunched from Hitwise, a division of Connexity, the number of Americans who have searched for Trump’s campaign merchandise since April outnumbers those who have searched for Clinton’s campaign merchandise by a margin of almost five-to-one. Score one for The Donald. However, when looking at the boost in online searches for such merchandise prior to and just after each candidate’s nominating convention, we see that Clinton received the bigger “bounce.” Score one for Hill.
Specifically, searches for Clinton merchandise the week of the Democratic National Convention increased a relative 352% over the week prior. Trump merchandise, meanwhile, received a “bounce” of 255% the week of the Republican National Convention over the week prior. Since the close of both conventions, searches for each candidate’s respective merchandise have returned to levels just slightly higher than their pre-convention norm. That means that Trump merch searches are back to outnumbering those for Clinton’s merch by a healthy margin despite the fact that he is polling considerably worse than Clinton these days.
Could this mean that there’s a stronger passion among Trump’s supporters? Maybe. There are certainly more Americans willing to part with some cash for a now iconic Trump hat or some other merchandise. But it could also be due to the fact that the Clinton campaign, widely recognized as being better funded and more sophisticated than that of her rival, is doing better than Trump about proactively making yard signs, bumper stickers and pins available to her supporters so they don’t have to go searching for it. Only time will really tell though. Fortunately for both parties, Clinton and Trump are getting the lion’s share of traffic from their respective campaign merchandise searches, allowing them to add more contact names to their database and solicit donations from those same would-be voters.
Specifically, 24% of clicks following a search for Clinton merchandise go to HillaryClinton.com, with two thirds of those clicks going directly to the portion of her site dedicated to selling campaign merchandise. For Trump loyalists, 16% of clicks following a search for merchandise go to Trump’s official campaign page DonaldJTrump.com, with over 90% of those clicks going directly to the merchandise store. Interestingly, another 13% of Trump’s search clicks go to either TrumpStore2016 or TrumpOutlet.com, sites that are obviously and aggressively pro-Trump, but not affiliated with or operated by his campaign, which likely results in missed opportunities to engage these customers. No similar partisan affiliate exists on the left. Cafe Press and Zazzle, both neutral in the election, get significant traffic from those searching for both types of political merchandise. (Combined, the sites receive 15% of clicks from Clinton searches and 12% from Trump searches.)
Where can you spot Trump and Clinton merchandise?
Aside from the obvious concentrations in reliably red and blue states for any presidential election, I was curious where else I might be likely to find someone sporting partisan apparel or cars plastered with political bumper stickers—short of hopping a flight to California or Idaho. Our new AudienceView platform provided me with a good clue. It revealed, for instance, that Trump supporters are 2.2 time more likely than average to shop on GanderMountain.com, so it’s not much of a leap to assume that the parking lot of a Gander Mountain store is a pretty good bet to find a few “Make America Great Again” bumper stickers. On the other side of the political divide, people who have searched for Clinton merchandise are 3.6 times more likely to shop at SurLaTable.com making it a reliably safe place to find some shoppers who say they’re “with her.”
Interestingly, LL Bean is one retailer with above average concentrations of shoppers searching for both Trump and Clinton merchandise. Maybe the retailer could play a role in helping to heal the growing divide by encouraging everyone to get outside for a calming hike during this contentious presidential election.
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