“America First” puts German brands under pressure

Donald Trump threatens German car manufacturers with punitive duties and does not give in in the trade dispute with the EU. The US president is thus tightening his protectionist policy, which is already causing discernible damage to German brands. In the fourth edition of our biennial study “The Image of German Brands 2018”, we at Globeone confirm this damage with the results of the latest survey, which we conducted with over 1,500 consumers in Germany, the US and China at the end of 2017. It shows that more than three-quarters of all Trump voters (76%) have been buying more American products since the US president took office. And despite the strong sympathy for German brands (85%), almost every second Trump follower (46%) buys less German products.

Younger US consumers in particular follow the “Buy American”

The distinction between age groups shows that young Americans and middle-aged consumers avoid German brands most often. The “Buy American” appeal has the greatest effect among 18 to 39-year-olds, with as many men as women buying more US brands (56%). But at 33%, the proportion of men who buy fewer German brands is almost twice as high as for women.

Basic political attitude has more influence on consumption

“Our study shows that the renationalization of world trade, as pursued by the United States under Donald Trump, even creates problems for brands with a strong country of origin (COO) in their backs”, explains Dr. Niklas Schaffmeister, Managing Partner of Globeone, a key conclusion of the study. “In view of the ‘America First’ strategy, an environment is threatening to emerge in which it is no longer the quality of the product, but primarily the basic political attitude of consumers that is decisive for the purchase.”

Boomerang: The image of the US suffers from Trump’s protectionism

However, the renationalization of the political agenda by Donald Trump has not only harmed German brands. The image of the US itself is clearly suffering from the president’s attempt to erect a protective barrier around the US industry by denouncing agreements and erecting trade barriers. Two-thirds (66%) of the German consumers surveyed stated that in their eyes the image of the US had deteriorated considerably. Only one in four (25%) see the image of the US unchanged. And only 6% see an improvement since Donald Trump moved into the White House.