By Prof. Gurinder Singh Ahluwalia GJIMT, Mohali.
Political Marketing has already become a subject of serious study and research in the US and the West but not quite so in India in particular. Political parties prefer to rely on the experts from within the party to design its campaign strategy though advertising is outsourced to the professional advertisers. India’s oldest political party Indian National Congress used the services of commercial advertising agency way back in 1989 and since then most parties have been using marketing tools and concepts for achieving success in the elections. This paper is a desk research to understand the concept of Political Marketing from an Indian perspective and an effort to stimulate research in India in this field.
Political marketing as a subject of research & study has been receiving considerable attention in the US, Europe New Zealand and Australia. There has been few research papers on this new discipline based on the study of South East Asian democracies also. But it has not yet caught the attention of scholars from India, a country that prides itself being the largest democracy on the globe.
Although Political parties and candidates in India have long been using concepts and tools of commercial marketing to win over the confidence and approval of Indian electorate but no structured study has come out on how the political marketing has thus far been evolved here. This paper is an attempt to explain the position of this new field of study as a separate subject and stimulate its appreciation from the perspective of India.
Politics is normally associated with ideas and ideologies. A political party has a need to communicate with the target audience about the relevance and importance of its policy that may purportedly fulfill the aspirations of the citizens while the party achieves its own objectives. Therefore, Political advertising has been the most pervasive manifestation of the use of concept and tools of marketing undertaken by the political parties. In the early stages of the political marketing studies in the west, most explanations tend to view political marketing as more concerned with the communication process between voters and political parties and candidates [Lock and Harris, 1996; Wring, 1997] without explaining its impact on the organizational components. Subsequently several studies have enumerated the relevance of particular aspects of marketing theory such as the relevance of marketing mix for political parties, use of segmentation techniques for voter targeting and identifying strategic needs and wants of the voters [Paul R. Baines, Phil Harris and Barbara R. Lewis, 2002]. The use of marketing theory and concepts has gone beyond establishing effective communication with the electorate only.
Marketing concepts and tools like market research, opinion polls and campaign management practices have found strategic approval of the political entities and hence become an important field of study and research. There are some skeptics who while arguing against the influence of marketing on politics generally say that it may be possible to win an election campaign and still lose an election. They look at election campaign as a month long event only, which it isn’t. A campaign has to be a five years long exercise to ensure electoral victory.
Expanding the influence of marketing
Kotler and Levy (1969) pointed out that classical marketing tools could also be used in areas other than business, and called for the expansion of marketing to embrace non-commercial entities, such as police, churches and public schools. The use of marketing tools and concepts is not confined to the commercial domain of profit seeking organizations looking to exchange goods for money. Marketing no longer is interpreted in terms of selling alone....