The 5th P of Electoral Marketing


Superstar Rajinikanth addresses after casting his vote during the South Indian Artists Association’s SIAA Election in

Let me admit this, this post has been long overdue, and procrastination has had an undue effect on this and I thought what better topic than the voter as a consumer. This is the season of election where I am living and my neighbouring state of Kerala.

My professional assignments have taken me to see how the political parties see these voters as consumers and fool them into buying their promise and come up trumps.

So I went back to see how these have evolved in the last few years and how one last election has changed the landscape to a different plane of activity as far as election is concerned.

How do you actually define your consumer. Work backwards, that might be the philosophy.

A party looks at the voter as a consumer. And the best part is the market or the target that it is all about. The product here is a 5-year government that is being sold to a very heterogeneous set of population.

The parties used to profile the market and differentiate in their own way not until the matrix of social studies came into play.

The matrix of 4Ps in play in elections is quite evident from the way they start announcing the candidates. Price, Place, Packaging and Promotion.

First P : Price
The Price here refers to the amount the candidate is willing to pay for the Party quite easily becomes the preference which they think can make up for the rest of the next three Ps. Quite obviously, this took a different dimension in Tirumangalam in Tamilnadu where each voter was given a price say ranging between 1000 – 2000 rupees to cast his vote in favour of a party. This was significant because it was also a bye election. This later came to be known as Tirumangalam Formula and was widely used by the opposition and won elections handsomely.
So what’s a little few crores when you can earn as much and more when you get to power in the next five years.

Second P : Place
The next P is the Place, its actually a suggestion by the Electin commission that makes it a reserved category seat in some cases. But otherwise the candidate needs to be a local. The national Parties are very strict about this sometimes, they believe the son of the soil card can be played to the advantage. So clearly in Kerala when Sreeshant was announced a candidate the opposition which no real issues picked on him as an outsider.

The Place factor also can be historical, say the DMK Stalwart contests from his hometown a bit of psychology and emotional appeal as if the constituency is going to be changed to a capital anytime soon. Mind you need to fool all the people only for that few days when the electoral code is in force.

Third P : Packaging
Let’s move to Packaging, what’s a product without the real deal – packaging, the inherent psyche of the consumer is that however good the product may be it is enhanced to the next level with some packaging and we see how important it is when it comes to FMCGs, I would rank the votes under the same category except that its once in five years.
The Packaging these days have now come to be done by professionals who can crunch data for you and give you a presentation that will floor you down and make it look like a book titled how to win elections by engineering a social divide across caste, community and religion. Again the closest the parties come to is the packaging of the castes, communal and religious overtones in subtle and sublime way that people think its ok for us to be hoodwinked and a sense of righteousness fills them when they are told that they belong to a clan of warriors or fighters or sometimes they will be known for their hard-line stance on caste or community lines.

Fourth P : Promotion
Now let’s talk about promotion. Those were days when you can actually do paid advertising but then today Election Commission thinks it’s got the rights to enforce at least some of the important statues and try to get an un influenced by media election. Of course you can discount the party owned and other media outlets, especially with reference to Tamil Nadu where I belong, I still wonder how Election Commission will be able to ideally have them accounted as a cost.

The last Parliament election made Social Media the darling of every party and the way Narendra Modi used it apart from his whirlwind tours made it an important instrument in his victory.

So we have digital making a great impact and there are different patterns appearing even Meme’s making it to the forefront. Whatsapp, Facebook, twitter are all used extensively to create touch points for communication. Ofcourse there are apps too which are making it happens. The digital with its targeting is making it a wonderful instrument. Even SMSes are being used across.

Fifth P : No guesses Its Prashanth Kishore
Now the post 2014 has given birth to a new P. It’s called Prashanth Kishore and that P has been able to make waves after Mission 2014 Its been easy till now with the Bihar elections in his bag The 5th P in election marketing is on a roll. Time will decide how it will fare in the near future.

The winner needs to get these 4Ps together in appropriate measure according to the place he is working on the ground. Not to forget the 5th P.

Urban has a social media edge meanwhile rural has the other side of offline marketing which also includes bribing with liquor, biriyani and money.

Now you might be asking me what will the consumer here aka the voter get. He gets to be laughed at for another 5 years. :P

Now in case you are any of the state are in election mode and reading hope you did your sacred duty of voting!

Senthilkumar

PS: Incase you are asking me about the Picture its about an election but yeah nothing to do with the article, as much as citizens plight for the next five years