India-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-PlatformIndia-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-Platform

Amid Covid-19 The Prospect of Political Marketing

Political parties are an indispensable part of any form of constitutional democracy. The proper functioning of democracy is unquestionably incomplete without the existence of political parties. They perform multiple functions and illustrate numerous dynamic behaviours in the functioning of the democratic process. When the action of electoral and political parties are scrutinized from the marketing point of view, it gives new insights into democratic processes lead by political parties via incorporating marketing concepts.

The concept of marketing has been widely applied to various context across the organization irrespective of nature of their business. There is a famous tagline in marketing, “Customer is the King” which means the field entirely focus on customers and achieving their satisfaction. It starts from market research wherein the marketers are required to identify customer needs and then attempt to satisfy those needs. Therefore, the philosophical base for marketing concept says that achieving customer satisfaction is social as well as the economic justification behind the existence of every organization. If any political party attempts to include this concept in their political process, then the party must be in a position to adjust to and then satisfy the needs of their voters.

When talking about political marketing as a sub-discipline in the marketing field, the initial efforts were given by the marketing scholars by widening the scope of marketing to the non-profit areas like charity, hospitals, political candidates and parties. Kotler and Levy in 1971 argued that similar to the products and services, ideas and persons can also be marketed and thus, expanded the scope of marketing to include non-business organizations, persons and ideas.

Therefore, we can say that politics fall in the extended version of marketing as it also includes an exchange of votes for a specific candidate. Political marketing also moves the politics towards customer-orientation or to be more precise, voter-orientation. The concept says that the political parties also do market research first to identify the needs of the electorates and promises to deliver when in power. Voters show their support in terms of votes in return for the services being offered by the candidate once in power, and by doing so, they are involved in a transaction process. Therefore, the concept of marketing process allows political parties to design and implement political campaigns effectively and efficiently. It is a marketing concept that helps political parties to identify the needs of diverse voters and address their concerns. All this can be done via analysing, planning, implementing and controlling the election campaigns.

covid-19-political-marketing-marketexpress-inPolitical marketing includes the theories that have been used by profit as well as a non-profit organization in selling goods/services/ideas. Politics today is increasingly being influenced by marketing and the same technological methods used by corporations to market products and services are also being used by politicians to market themselves and their ideas. In today’s world, a leader must rely on marketing to emerge as a successful leader and not only for winning elections.

What can be borrowed from the Marketing field?

Political marketing as a concept is derived from two disciplines, i.e., Political Science and Marketing. When talking about Marketing, the field discusses the objectives of the business firms and its approach, for example, product-orientation, sales-orientation or market-orientation and techniques used (popularly known as 7Ps of marketing, i.e., product, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical ambience).

There are three orientations described in marketing to explain business behaviour- product, sales and market orientations. Product-orientation – focus on producing the best product it can, as efficiently and cheaply as possible, assuming the goodwill then sell. If the case is not so, then the business argues that the customer is ignorant. Sales-orientation – attitude with a greater focus on selling good and applying techniques such as advertising and direct mail. The orientation creates the demand rather than responding to it. Market-orientation – design product to provide customer satisfaction to achieve its goals. A better chance of securing a long-term customer.

These orientations can also be applied to party behaviour. Market intelligence or marketing mix or 7Ps are the processes used in marketing. This can be formed into a chronological process consisting of various stages a party will go through within one electoral cycle. But 7Ps need considerable stretching to make much sense in politics. The use of polls by parties, for example, exemplified by the stage of market intelligence.

How can the borrowings from Marketing be applied in Politics?

Political parties can enhance the chances of winning elections by following political marketing. They alter aspects of their behaviour, including policy, membership, leadership, campaign strategy and organizational structure, to suit the nature and demands of their market. They can do this by being a product, sales or market-orientated. Each orientation can be an appropriate approach to adopt depending on the goals and market.

  • Product-Oriented Party: assumes that voter will realize that its ideas are the right ones and therefore vote for it. Such a party refuses to change its ideas or product even if it fails to gain electoral support.
  • Sales-oriented party: focus on selling its arguments to voters. It retains its pre-determined product design but recognizes that desired supporters may not automatically want it. Using market intelligence to understand voters’ response to its behaviour, the party employs the last advertising and communication techniques to persuade voters that it is right. Such a party does not change its behaviour to suit what people want but tries to make people want what it offers.
  • Market-oriented party: provide voter satisfaction. Uses market intelligence to identify voter demands, then design its product to suit them. Doesn’t attempt to change what people think but deliver what they want. Such a party will not simply offer voters what they want, or simply follow opinion polls because it needs to ensure that it can deliver the product on offer. If it fails to deliver, voters will become dissatisfied, and the party will risk losing electoral support in the long-term. It also needs to ensure that it will be accepted within the party and so needs to adjust its product carefully to take account of this. The party designs a product that will satisfy voters’ demands: that meets their needs and wants, is supported, and implemented by the internal organization, and is deliverable in government.

Thus, Political marketing is about political organization adapting business-marketing concepts and techniques to help them achieve their goals. The entities such as political parties, interest groups conduct market intelligence to identify their citizen concerns and their behaviour and also communicate their offerings to the citizens. Political marketing is often confused with political communication, but it is beyond that; rather, it is a fruitful marriage between political science and marketing.

Covid-19 and Political Marketing

In the third decades of the 21st century, the whole world is witnessing the biggest scathing attack on humanity. In the last more than half a century, the world has not seen such a massive, more intensified and disastrous attack of deadly and fearful virus called COVID-19. More than 200 nations have witnessed the untimed death of more than half a million people (WHO, 2020) so far in the last six months at a time when the advancement and supremacy of science and technology are the most pressing subject matters for nations to illustrate their dominance and power. The complete choking of health care system of even the most advanced and countries having the global best health care facilities, including the US, China and almost whole Europe is the typical example of the mockery of scientific advancement and the invincibility of COVID-19. Countries are having the best of the best technologies, the highest level of scientific advancements, and the global best health infrastructure too is suffering hugely. The powerful invincibility of this virus has completely uprooted existing systems of economic and non-economic activities in the majority of the countries across the world. So is the case with India. This also acts as an obstacle in the works of political rallies which is a very important aspect of the Indian election process.

Seeing the low penetration of modern media and poor education in the world’s the most populous democracy, it appears that rallies act as an important method to influence the minds of a large number of voters. But Covid-19 lead new protocols restrict the gathering of the public in large number. Therefore, to assemble at large number during the ongoing situation will be irresponsible and a stupid act apart from being unlawful.

However, getting a Covid free world will take a bit of time, and the democratic processes can’t wait for that long time. So, there is a new and unique challenge in front of parties to get in touch with their voters without having large public gatherings. To combat the situation, parties are using extensively social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, video conferencing apps and many more advance technologies to get in touch with electorates on a large scale.

Thus, political parties are using technology to reach out and get connected with the electorates. Similar things have been followed in marketing to entice the segmented target customers. But it’s quite rare to hear such a thing in politics. What we all have seen and hearted is heating debates from a stage by a leader in front of lakhs of people. But now the time demands something else and how the political parties cope up with this will be an interesting thing to see. Leaders have started virtual rallies, as election in few stares is approaching. But its effectiveness shall always be a subject matter of debate among political and marketing gurus.