Sunday, August 8, 2010

Political Marketing

Political marketing
Marketing designed to influence consumers about political issues, particular candidates for public office, or public issues. Although political marketing uses many of the same techniques that other forms of marketing do, it is actually used to promote a concept or an idea, rather than a specific product or service, and to motivate people to vote for that idea. In marketing terms, politics is not like selling wine, or consumer electronics—products where a small dedicated market segment can sustain a business. 
            Politics is like selling carbonated soft drinks or computer operating systems. Either you appeal to a huge demographic or you cannot justify the infrastructure. In other words, political marketing is the outcome of the marriage between marketing and politics. As an activity and method, it reflects the penetration of the political space by marketing. Political advertising, Celebrity endorsements, involvement of professional consultants and campaign managers, online campaigning, mobile phone canvassing, segmentation, micro targeting etc. are some of the methods extensively used in political marketing.
           Though political marketing is increasingly used in democratic political systems in which mass support is significantly important to sustain power; military rulers also use marketing strategy to build their branded image. The influence of professional marketing has affected the working style of political parties. Parties became more market oriented and began to frame there programs and policies in tune with opinion polls and market surveys. Information revolution and globalization have played a vital role in changing the pattern and content of traditional political campaigning into one of the most professional and sophisticated marketing tactics. 
       It is argued that if a political party implements the marketing philosophy, it will seek to meet voters needs and wants, thus producing voter satisfaction, and in doing so gain electoral support to meet its own goals.

Need of political marketing

1. social change:- Decreasing identifiability and relevance of social class has increased the need of political marketing. Earlier politics was largely based on identity politics but now due to globalization identity and social class politics has lost it’s base. Increased social mobility and education has decreased the relevance of ideology and forced political parties to change their strategy.

2.   Electoral change: - increasing electoral volatility and decreasing explanatory power of variables like age, gender, class has also increased the need of political marketing.

3. Increasing importance of campaigning:- Campaigns are no        longer predominantly about mobilizing support With decreasing base   support. Now voters need to be attracted through campaigning .we have seen in 2008 American president election that how campaigning affect the politics. Now a days Campaign context impact on economic issues and leadership evaluations. Increasing importance of mass media (new findings challenging the “minimal effects model” providing campaigners with reasons to trust in effectiveness of electioneering) in election has also increased the need of political marketing.

4.  Professionalization of campaigns :- Exponential increases in campaign spending has forced political parties to manage Use of their campaign professionally so for this purpose  they are hiring consultants, pollsters, commercial advertisers etc. they are now relying on  campaign consultants for policy content of manifestos. They want their party to look different from other parties (competitors) so they are using market research (focus groups, private polling, and direct-marketing, database-marketing) for designing their election campaign and for setting their agenda.

Political marketing management

It has often been argued that the application of ‘marketing’ tools and instruments in politics is nothing new. This may or may not be the case, but what certainly has changed in the last 25 years is not just the magnitude of political marketing management but the belief that political actors and these include not only political parties and politicians but also governments, single issue groups, lobbying organizations, etc. not only act out but also ‘think’ in marketing terms; they believe that they do marketing management, and they try to integrate their use of marketing instruments in a coherent marketing strategy. Political marketing applications have changed from a communication instrument to a coherent way of managing politics, whether it policy making, election canvassing or executing decisions.
        However, most political actors are far from having an integrated and sophisticated understanding of marketing applications for their political exchange situations. Political marketing management in politics has caused some ‘leading’ parties and candidates to adopt a simplistic and populist ‘follower’-mentality, contributing to the disenchantment of the electorate and a resulting cynicism regarding politics in general. 
            Political marketing manifests itself in such diverse activities as focusing a campaign on the salient political issues of swing voters, through the application of sophisticated segmentation techniques a consequent voter-‘customer’ orientation, the application of celebrity endorsement strategies as part of an integrated marketing communication or the institution of powerful Directors of Communication.

Market segmentation in politics
As we know that market are segmented on geographic basis, demographic basis, geo-demographic basis and physiological basis. Psychographic segmentation identifies common values and segments customers according to their beliefs, attitudes, activities, interests and opinions. Political segmentation appears to suit psychological segmentation because we know that generally the electorate does have opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards political parties and candidates. Psychological profiles can be developed for segments based on lifestyle, social character and personality. There are 3 segment divisions of social character:

1. Traditional directed behaviour (a voter always votes this way)
2. Conformity with social or family groups (socialisation into supporting a party)
3. Individualist behaviour (instrumental consumer buying behaviour of choice of

Market Targeting in politics
Targeting must be consistent with party’s overall objectives. Assuming the segmentation of a market is satisfactorily completed, the next task is choosing the segments to be targeted. The number of segments chosen will be determined by the available resources available to implement the marketing activities effectively and efficiently..
There is also a final Consideration of selecting segments that are generally overlooked and this introduces the complex question of segment responsiveness. Responsiveness is often overlooked because there is a lack of rigorous research into what stimuli will cause a favourable outcome. For example in the 2005 Bihar Election, the JD(U)  selected 190 seats and the BJP about a 142 (Baines et al, 1999).
         Sometimes the division between the attractiveness of segments is clear and choice is relatively straight forward. In other cases the decision is more difficult because the relative attractiveness of the developed segments is similar. A system for prioritising segments is required. There are 3 distinct segments:

1. Primary targets: Attractive segment(s) that is responsive to stimuli
2. Secondary targets: Less attractive segment(s) that are responsive to stimuli
3. Relationship building: Attractive segment(s) that is less responsive to stimuli
A segment may indeed be attractive but if the party cannot create a stimulus to produce a response then the resources are wasted. Measuring the response to individual stimulus can be difficult if near impossible since cause and effect relationships occur in a complex, multi-variant market environment.
The attractiveness of a segment may be determined by some of the following criteria:

1. A large market share of a segment is held e.g. high brand recognition (like party symbol).
2. High potential for growth i.e. high relative returns or expected number of votes are potentially higher
3. The size of the segment i.e. large enough to be interesting or small enough to be managed
4. Lack of competition i.e. weak opposition candidate
5. The party can differentiate products and services to match the segment's requirements e.g. local or single issues, high profile candidate, and topical national issue
6. Segment penetration will help achieve the party objectives. These objectives may be brand building, greater awareness, , greater usage or larger share of the vote etc.
7. Ease of access e.g. information needed to identify members of a segment is available or easily obtained
8. Existing relationships e.g. resources are allocated preferentially to a candidate or constituency (Baines et al, 1999)
9. Ease of distribution e.g. e-mail lists are available, distribution of political literature is easier in urban rather than rural areas
10. Resource availability e.g. active local branch, available funding, costs are not prohibitive

Differences between political marketing and mainstream marketing

1. Unlike every other purchasing decision, all voters make their choice on the same day. Moreover, although there are similarities between opinion polls and brand shares ‘tracking methods, the latter are based on actual purchasing decisions while the former are based on hypothetical questions.
2. Voting choice, unlike any other purchasing decision, has no direct or indirect individual costs attached to it.
3. Voters have to live with the collective choice even though it may not have been their preference
4. In elections winner takes all, especially in countries such as the UK where the electoral system is “first past the post”.
5. Political parties and candidates are complex intangible products which the voters cannot unbundle and thus they have to decide on the totality of the package
6. Political arena, unlike the commercial world, is highly charged with ideas, emotions, conflict and partisanship.

Political marketing in india
A sound communications strategy could backfire without astute media planning. Vajpayee led NDA government had lost elections due to bad media planning. In fact there was nothing wrong with the communication strategy of India Shining campaign. Probably the segmentation was also done meticulously. The party managers had faltered on establishing a correct level of advertising spend believing that if they spend more on communication the result would be in their favour. How could one assume that when most research indicate otherwise?
India shining campaign has been considered a flop show as the party lost elections. A closer study would reveal that there was real merit in the communication strategy adopted as election theme. Most experts also agreed that the campaign was generally good and effective before the election results were out. The devil did lie in the media planning. From political marketing viewpoint no one tried to look at the desired level of media reach for an incumbent party. The overkill in media cost them elections. There are major differences between the American and European way of conducting advertising campaigns. In USA you have candidate centred, repetitive, and short advertising messages as against the European way that features party centric, longer duration, and single shot advertisements. Use of marketing instruments, concepts and techniques is on the rise in India with every new election. Most political parties realizing the importance of political communications have created in house teams, often named as media cell, to establish, maintain and improve the image of their party and advise the party on professional political communications. These media divisions within parties generally consist of current and former journalists and a smattering of political communications experts. Well-planned political marketing helps to influence the election outcome by convincing the electorate about real effective issues.

Political marketing in USA(2008 presidential election)
The lifeblood of 2008 campaign isn't red, white or blue. It's green, as in financial contributions. And smart campaigns know that what triggers a donation from one person will be totally different for another. So they reach out constantly. Every news release emailed out to the base is accompanied by a strong call to action. Donate now. Make a difference. While some politicians are more successful at this than others, what we can take away from this is that frequent communication coupled with a clear action path results in conversion.

Media used in 2008 USA president election
It's a switched-on, 24x7, YouTube world. Embrace it. That's what the savviest campaigns are doing, and it's yielding benefits galore. Blogs are just a starting point. The most successful campaigns are also incorporating the following:
Ø Mobile updates
Ø Twitter tweets
Ø Cell phone ring tones (check out these from  Obama's campaign)
Ø Videos of speeches and behind-the-scenes meetings

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