As the economy is not showing a promising future but there is one industry in India where never recession comes. Be it Lok Sabha elections or assembly elections each politician is trying to woo the voters. As it happens in the Product Life cycle of any product, traditional methods used by politicians has reached the maturity age. People do not have much time to come and listen to rallies of Mass Leaders in the scorching sun.
Politicians and marketers are walking hand-in-hand ever since the idea of competing for power became the standard in countries with a democratic or republican system of government. Marketing is used by politicians to spread their ideas and make people believe in those ideas. It is universal truth that, emotion drives the purchase decision and thus voters are no exceptions.
For an effective market there exist sellers and buyers. Here candidate is a service provider in exchange for the votes. So here is reason to believe that even the way voters choose political parties has similarities to how they make their choices about brands.
Mapping Into Politics
Market Research: As the first step in any marketing process is to find the actual cause of problem .So market research in short is used to gauge the mood of population, identifying potential voters and to detect their problems. There are many market research companies like AC Neilson or C-Voter-Times Now which provides political surveys and helps the people judge the mood of the country.
Segmentation: Politics provides a clear application of market segmentation. In this case potential voters are clustered in a group according to various factors like age, sex, caste, religion, income, occupation, personality etc.
Targeting: is basically identifying what kind of voters will most likely support and finding those voters. A rural voter is more concerned about the daily bread rather than the development of airports. A youth is more concerned about the unemployment whereas industrialist is concerned about the economy of India.
Product Concept: It serves as the core of the product in the target group’s mind. The process of developing a product in the political market is one of creating a parcel encompassing a candidate, issues, party, and the like, which will satisfy the target voters. Furthermore, the concepts of brand loyalty and party loyalty have been utilized as a baseline. The first step of such promotion strategy is to distinguish between voters who are loyal to the party and swing voters and hence design a different promotion mix for each of the two main groups.
Positioning: The product’s and the candidate’s “location” in the perceptual map of consumers and the voters relative to the location of the competitors is to be determined, planned, and promoted so as to increase consumer and voter preference of the product and the candidate in question.
Analyzing from consumer behavior point of view:
All consumers are not rational and this affect is further visible towards elections. According to theory of “Hidden forces that shape decisions” proposed by “Dan Airely” it states most of the decisions made by humans are sub-conscious. So we should not only focus on the cognitive behavior but also try to influence the voter’s emotions. This is the reason why our politicians like Mr. Narendra modi raise issues of Ram Temple and Babri masjid to touch upon the hearts of the voters.
Also according to Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation model, metaphors are used to connect emotionally and to increase the recall of a product. In politics also as we see many political parties uses the images of their mass leaders like A.B Vajpayee or Indira Gandhi. This help recall people the times when these leaders were in power and did some good. New leaders want to leverage the brand image created by previous leaders.
Political parties also use a wide range of advertising to influence voters. In marketing terminology, most of these advertisements focus on the utilitarian approach of the consumers. Political parties try to show what good they have done in the past.But why these ads sometimes fail? We will try to understand this with the help of Fishbein Model.
So as we see in the diagram above there are 2 factors in this:
- Attitude: Determine how important a particular attribute is
- Social Norms: Determined by what opinion you social circle has.
Other technique is hedonic advertising in which marketers use various celebrities for promotion of their leader or party. In this I am just reminded of the advertisement by Amitabh Bachhan for Gujarat. Parties will bring in influential social commentators and feed them with talking points to build preference, especially among undecided voters. Trait theory is another technique used to model campaigns according to the personality of an individual.
Latest Marketing Strategies
The President-elect of the United States and famous for his ‘Let’s bring the change’ message, might well prove successful in changing the way his Indian counterparts think about internet.
Social Media: Political parties are using Facebook and other Medias like Google+ to reach mass media. Modi has around 1 million fans on his FB page and he posts pictures, videos and excerpts of his speeches on the Page. Suppose if such a large gathering was to be addressed, how many months it would take.
Twitter War: Every politician starting from prime ministerial candidates to a party MP keeps on tweeting about their recent views. This has helped the public to get views of leaders on important matters. If there is an economy what the other leader thinks about and what public can expect from opposition leader. But the biggest advantage of it is global reach.
Customized Games: There are games favoring the candidates of various parties. In consumer behavior aspect it can using element of FUN to woo the voters. For Instance, games like Aam runner and ModiRun are very popular. Experts have stated that the android platform has been picked up by youngsters effectively.
Nano-targeting: As the various consumer product companies are using the Big Data to identify the needs of the users, same can be used by political marketers help politicians and their campaigns identify and communicate with highly specific segments of voters
Professional Advertising agencies: Political parties are roping in ad agencies to make strategies for its marketing campaign. Congress has hired the services of JWT, a global advertising and marketing agency to handle the Congress’s electioneering for 2014.
Freebies: In politics a voter knows that a freebie is permanent and once introduced will not be taken back, irrespective of which party won the election. Hence only a sop will not work as a cause, it has to be packaged with another cause. Legacy works in times of good governance and economic results; don’t expect any party to flaunt legacy in 2014.
Comparative advertising: The idea here is to portray competitors in an unfavorable way without being perceived as attacking them. Political advertising make it happen by creating Fear, Doubt and Uncertainty in the minds of the users. Research has proved that advertising lowers the image of the attacked candidate because voters believe negative advertising gives them more information to make informed decision.
What Next? / Recommendations
Cadre Relationship: It is needless to say that Cadre in any political is the life-line of party and can assure the sustainable triumph. Marketers should ensure a transparent system to invite more people to join their party.
Be a constant Innovator: As initially discussed the Brand of any political party reaches maturity until there is a continuous innovation. One example of innovation was charging of a fee of Rs 5 for Modi’s political rally in Hyderabad. According to human psychology if someone pays some money to see a rally, he will value it more than if it is free.
Perfect Timing: Our strategy should be strike when Iron is Hot. After the Muzzafar nagar riots, the next day Rahul Gandhi visited the victims to show some one cares for them. Effect would not have been the same if he had visited after a month.
From the above essay we can conclude that marketing concepts are quite applicable to political marketing. Admittedly, by focusing on the decision making approach to voter behavior, marketers can plan political campaigns keeping in mind a specific voter. Different strategies must be used for different demographics divide. To stress upon this point, the most apt example is the failure of “India Shining Campaign of BJP in 2003”. Congress countered the above by using “Aam Aadmi k liye kya”query. The reason was that rural population was not influenced by the development of BJP. So the political marketers have to weigh on each and every strategy and media available to them and make sure that it is aimed at the right target market.
The article is authored by Puneet from Great Lakes Institute Of Management for November Article Writing Contest