May 10, 2013

Market Orientation of Political Party

Political parties don’t want to be left behind in employing any means, fair or foul, to achieve the political goal of wresting & wielding power.  Use of marketing concepts & tools has become prevalent in many developing countries including India. Although most often the political players in India don’t trust professional judgment in planning their political marketing campaign but they realize critical importance of the discipline of marketing.

Political parties, understandably so, restrict the use of marketing to political communication field alone than use it in a comprehensive manner to align its behavior according to wants & needs of citizen voters. A political party in modern democracy needs to use marketing concepts to market itself effectively than limit itself to use of marketing techniques only.

Most political parties seek professional help in marketing their party & programs to the citizen voters during election campaign. Hardly any party realizes the need for regular marketing even in India which is called the land of perennial elections. Therefore most parties approach elections with intrepid fear and or exuberance. This piece is on a more fundamental issue of market orientation of political players than the theme of campaign strategy. A political party without suitable market orientation cannot win despite a great communication strategy.   

Political players, like firms, in a democracy require suitable market orientation to win & sustain trust of citizen voters. What is the type of market orientation every political party is seeking to compete with each other to capture the trust of citizen voters? MARKOR & MKTOR scales are inappropriate to unravel the nature of orientation of political parties, as these are designed for commercial firms.  A political party need to find out whether it has product, sales or market orientation and factor in the knowledge to customize it behavior in each electoral cycle. 

Market Orientation is a business approach or philosophy that focuses on identifying and meeting the stated or hidden needs or wants of customers. A marketing orientated approach means a business reacts to what customers want. Since marketing has permeated into not-for-profit and social sector too, therefore it’s imperative that political party must be aware of its nature of orientation. It’s possible that Product Orientation of a political party may be obstructing the path to success. A Sales oriented party could fail to factor in current needs & wants into the new offer and may prefer to persuade the consumers.

Political parties in democracy are required to deliver better life to citizens. They can do it only if they try to understand what people want. And then behave in a unique manner that is appreciated by the masses. Their party policies, leaders, organization, members and symbols must align to the expectations of the masses. Political parties in democracy are required to provide leadership & vision to masses so they can’t just use marketing techniques or concept where it does not make sense. There is need to coalesce marketing & political science in a synergistic manner as both have many similarities than differences. 

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