April 5, 2012

Political Marketing lessons from SP’s UP victory in 2012 Elections

There have been several political & journalistic explanations flying around in media of the stunning victory of Samajwadi Party in UP 2012 but nothing much has been said from a purely marketing point of view.  How Akhilesh got it right & Rahul could not? Majority opinion blames Congress party’s lack of feet-on –street. Well then by this logic the BJP should have fared better as it always has the advantage in this department. On the contrary it could only perform equal to the Congress party in UP.  

Let me attempt to explain the SP’s victory in UP elections 2012 in the light of marketing theory & practice. Firstly let us examine the benefits of listening more to core voters during election mode. Most journos, political pundits & politicians are lamenting the lack of INC cadres on the ground in UP to get the citizens vote in favor of party despite high recall levels & awareness generated through media & personal campaigning. In my opinion & from marketing perspective it is incorrect to blame lack of troop numbers in such situations. No size of team could push a ‘bad’ product or service that customers do not want.  As I have mentioned above that BJP has always had the benefit of using RSS cadres but it has not been able to get past the pole first.  INC did not got enough votes due to lack of Feet-on-Street in UP but because it could not target differentiated offers to various segments in such huge market.

Secondly most politicians do not have any idea how much publicity they should garner. It has been proven time & again in India and globally that political players must follow classic marketing concepts when using marketing tools. Excessive publicity could harm the advertiser seriously. I have pointing it out this since NDA’s ‘India Shining’ days and recently during Punjab 2012 elections too. SAD-BJP alliance had almost hurt its prospects in the run up to elections with overdose of publicity during pre-campaign phase. Had PPCCI prompted SAD alliance in Punjab to advertise with greater frequency the results would have been different?

Every marketer knows full well that when a new entrant or rank follower try to expand the category by accentuated activity to dislodge the leader then the number two in the market benefits more than the aspirant in the short run. INC led by Rahul Gandhi failed to portray itself as an alternative to the market leader BSP therefore all its efforts went on to benefit SP. Now if INC maintains the same momentum in UP then it could have great results from UP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Rahul Gandhi must continue his campaign in UP without any interval to get to numero uno place in UP 2014.

Couple of marketing lessons from UP 2012 elections are that size of cadres did not fatally restrict Rahul Gandhi from controlling UP  and secondly marketing thrives on ‘newness’ of the campaign and Congress failed to differentiate their product from the competition. 

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