Fear and loathing along the path to purchase 2016


President Donald Trump — nobody saw that coming.

Except maybe one man Drug Store News interviewed for our January 2011 cover story: Stewart “Stewie Rah-Rah” Rahr, the freewheeling billionaire-philanthropist and former owner/founder of Kinray, the largest privately-held drug distribution company at the time he sold it to Cardinal Health for some $1.3 billion.

“[Trump] would be an amazing president,” Rahr told DSN. “He possesses the attributes the country needs. He’s intelligent and a tremendous negotiator. He’s a leader in every sense of the word, and he loves America.”

A lot of people thought he was crazy. In a December 2010 DSN online poll, 74% of users believed that a Trump White House would be bad for the industry.

Fast-forward to 2016, and a series of DSN polls about the presidential race would play out much like the actual election: 58% of users believed a Trump presidency would be better for business; 50% believed it would be better for health care; and 51% said they planned to vote for Trump.

There is no question that our country is more deeply divided now than at any time since the Vietnam War. Certainly, millennials — which retailers and brand marketers spend so much time trying to reach — have never experienced anything like this. If you watched the demonstrations that broke out in cities all across America the day after the elections, you saw a lot of young faces in the crowd.

The key takeaway is that Americans today feel disenfranchised, disillusioned and disappointed — conservatives as much as liberals. That is why the election turned out as it did. Voters — consumers — want to feel connected to something, something that is meaningful. Half of America felt that they were not.

That message is as true for retailers and CPG companies as it is for political candidates. More than ever, purpose matters. What your brand stands for matters. Authenticity matters. And complacency kills.

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