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Sunday, 6 September 2009

The link between politics and marketing

Now, let us apply the buyer-decision process of marketing theory and practice. Instead of buyers, we'll take voters in this case. So, we call it the voter-decision process, but the process is still the same.

1. Problem recognition

Take a perspective Malaysian voter who is just starting to follow politics. S/he feels the need to follow politics as it is becoming more interesting as time goes by. As we know, we have the 2 biggest rivals in Malaysian politics, BN and PR. So, he feels the need to choose a side in politics (although not all are aligned to one party or another; there are fence-voters of course). Now, we move on to the next step.

2. Information search

Assume that this prospective voter does not have Internet access. His/her only source of information comes from newspapers, such as Utusan Malaysia (no doubt it is Ugutan Melayu going by their racist articles), The Star, The Sun, Sinar Harian, Harakah and many more. Say s/he reads only the Utusan Malaysia and The Star. Then, by perception, she believes the spins and thus, making her evaluation of alternatives easier. However, what if she has Internet access after that? Now this is going to be interesting. We have pro-opposition (ex. my blog), neutral (ex. Malaysiakini) and pro-government (ex. rocky bru) blogs. If she reads pro-opposition blogs, there is a chance that she might not believe the spin in the newspapers as they don't reveal as much news as there should be. However, if she reads pro-government blogs, there is more of a chance that she will be influenced by pro-government views. So, we move on to the next step.

3. Evaluation of alternatives

We have two possible alternatives in politics, which are BN and PR. The information process will influence the voter to choose which side s/he will choose in politics. Depending on which information she depends on, it is going to influence her in her decision to support which political party. If s/he is exposed only to newspapers, the more likely s/he will be aligned to vote for BN (gov't of the day). However, if she is also exposed to the internet, then it is more likely that s/he will be leaned towards the opposition (PR in this case). As we have observed, the internet is becoming more important in the disseminating of information to the people. It has to a certain extent affect newspaper circulations as more and more Malaysian people are relying on the Internet for the latest news in which some would not be reported in the newspapers. It is one of the major factors in which BN lost their 2/3 majority in Parliament last General Elections. This is because BN were ignoring the changes in behaviour of the Malaysian people once they are exposed to the Internet. They never thought the Internet would be such a threat to their position as of now. They may have learned their lesson when they started blogs of their own after that, but it may have been too little too late as the opposition blogs had captured a large pie of the Internet market. Oh well, it is going to make the next General Election more interesting in 3 years' time.

4. Voting decision

After evaluating the alternatives, the prospective voter may choose to vote for BN or PR, or may not even vote at all. Let's say if this prospective voter had voted for the first time in last year's General Elections. S/he votes for BN and thinks that a stable government is very important. However, she had one of the shocks of her life when the news came out tomorrow that the opposition (PR) had denied BN a 2/3 majority in parliament and 5 states (not including Wilayah Persekutuan) had fallen to PR. So, this will make him/her think. Had she voted for the right party? This will lead us to the last step, which is explained below.

5. Post-voting behaviour

After we buy stuff or after the voting process, each of us will feel cognitive dissonance, which is an inner conflict on whether s/he had made the right decision or not. In this case, the prospective voter would feel cognitive dissonance on whether she made the right decision in choosing BN. Therefore, it is a job for BN marketers to assure that she had made the right choice, but at the same time, the PR marketers would try to create more dilemma that s/he has to influence him/her that she had made the wrong choice. So, it depends on how s/he will react after that. She might switch allegiance or not, depending on his/her perception at that moment in time.

As you see from the explanations I made above, I say political parties needs marketing in order to promote their brand of politics. Since our world is shaped by perception, it is important for political parties to sway the perception of the voters to support them. Since PR is getting more and more support by the day, it is because their marketing strategy is effective. What does BN have to do in order to recapture the market that they lost? That I leave to you BN supporters to think. For me, the PR marketing is a more attractive proposition to me.


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