A movement to boycott Ivanka Trump's handbags, dresses, and shoes has swept the internet in recent weeks as consumers react to gross comments made by Ivanka's father, presidential candidate Donald Trump—as well as a wave of sexual assault allegations levied against him in the past month. The New Yorker recently declared: "Ivanka Trump Fights To Save The Brand."
But is the boycott enough to bring down her business—and has the drama of this election cycle really been bad for her company? Not necessarily.
New data from ShopRunner suggests that consumer "interest" in the Ivanka Trump brand has risen considerably since the beginning of July. During one week in October, searches for Ivanka's products were up as high as 338% over April 2016. The shopping-benefits company studied the online behavior of 21,705 of its members in six partner stores that carry Ivanka Trump products: Bon-Ton, FragranceNet.com, LastCall, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, and OnlineShoes. The ShopRunner analysis found that more people have clicked on Ivanka Trump items at the aforementioned online stores as this election year has progressed.
In one sense, it's not surprising—her father's campaign has certainly created more awareness of her brand. When I interviewed Ivanka Trump's staff this fall, they told me that their website traffic this year is up 50% over last year as a result of Ivanka's heightened celebrity. "[W]hen you look at the numbers, you couldn't pay for this visibility," said IvankaTrump.com editorial director Sarah Warren.
"I think lots of people didn't realize IvankaTrump had her own fashion line," says ShopRunner CMO Angela Song. "Clearly with her being in the news, what we see in the data, that's really helped with the overall awareness of her fashion brand and interest in it."
Specific events have directly correlated to heightened interest in individual Ivanka Trump products, as well. "Ivanka’s July appearances at the Republican National Convention and on Good Morning America each provided a noticeable bump in interest for her brand. After introducing her father at the RNC, where she wore a blush colored sheath from the Ivanka Trump Collection, interest in that dress went up 19 times overnight, according to ShopRunner’s data. For her interview on Good Morning America, she wore a navy floral patterned dress from her brand. Interest in that dress grew six times in the days following her July 19 appearance," ShopRunner wrote in a statement.
But does interest necessarily translate to sales? It's impossible to be sure with such limited data, though Song says historically, "in e-commerce, browse always comes before purchase. The more people you have can get interested in just browsing your products, it definitely is highly correlated with sales."
And as part of my recent Fast Company feature on Ivanka Trump's business, Larry Chiagouris, a Pace University marketing professor, pointed out to me that the boycott might encourage more pro-Trumpers to buy her products, even as consumers on the left avoid them. "...the more people say they're going to boycott her brand, the more they're going to drive [those] who are either middle of the road or pro-Republican to choose the brand," Chiagouris claimed.
That said, Song notes that the boycott may be having some effect, at least in the short-term. "We certainly see in the data, in the last week or two, very much timed with the boycott, the decline in interest, but hard to say whether that's just a temporary blip," Song said.
Without hard sales numbers from this private company (which declined to provide me its most recent data for this story), it's difficult to predict with certainty what the future holds for Ivanka Trump's brand. "I'm not sure if the interest will be long lasting after the election news," Song says. "That remains to be seen."