Ivanka Trump’s brand faces consumer backlash

Ivanka Trump has built a carefully cultivated image of an elegant working mother who can handle anything thrown at her. Whether that includes a growing sense of outrage among women -- her target market -- remains to be seen.

The #GrabYourWallet campaign asks consumers to boycott Trump-related products as well as the stores that sell them, which include big retailers such as Amazon.com (AMZN) and Nordstrom (JWN). Much of the grassroots protest has focused on Ivanka’s product line, which had about $100 million in sales last year.

The campaign is the brainchild of Sue Atencio, a self-described 59-year-old grandmother, and marketing specialist Shannon Coulter, who said they were both disturbed by the tape of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump boasting about sexual assault. 

Ivanka Trump became a focus of the hashtag, which is a reference to one of Trump’s lewd comments on the tape, because of what they see as her use of her father’s presidential campaign to promote her own brand, which includes clothing, shoes and handbags.

“She’s using the presidential campaign to market her clothing,” Coulter said. “It’s not an abstract fidelity to her dad.”

Ivanka Trump’s company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In an interview this week with “Good Morning America,” she said, “People can do what they like, but I’d prefer to talk to the millions -- the tens of millions -- of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message that I’ve created.”

Coulter said the breaking point for her was watching Ivanka Trump continuing to campaign for her father after the tape’s release. Before that, she said, women were more likely to give Ivanka Trump “a pass.”

She added, “A lot of women are feeling like they want to do something more than just vote at the polling both, and this is a good outlet for them.”

The hit to Ivanka Trump’s brand could be even more damaging than the impact felt by her father’s properties, which have lost appeal among some high-end consumers. That’s because Ivanka Trump’s products are geared toward the types of women who are now refraining from shopping at stores that carry her products -- upwardly mobile, professional women.

Aside from her clothing line, Ivanka Trump has another product on the line, a book called “Women Who Work” that is slated for a March release. The book is touted as presenting “a new worldview that celebrates how women work in all aspects of their lives.” The success of its release will likely hinge on her popularity with professional women.

That could spell trouble for Trump. Fortune magazine reports that a national survey of more than 1,900 voters found that only 23 percent of women said they’d buy her clothing. Only about one in 10 Democratic women said they’d buy an article of clothing with her name on it.

“I have a physical repulsion when I now run across her labels. NO WAY would I purchase! “ one woman wrote on social media.

The #GrabYourWallet campaign “seems to be taking on a life of its own,” Atencio said. “No one wants to punish Ivanka for being his daughter; it’s the surrogate thing.”

Ivanka Trump has been front-and-center in her father’s campaign, and she hasn’t been shy about promoting her brand while doing so. After speaking at the Republican National Convention about the gender pay gap, she tweeted a promotional message about how to buy the $138 pink dress that she wore on stage.