Voter Indifference, Youth, Political Brands and Indian Democracy

The Hindustan Times Youth Survey 2012 found that 41.9% of the subjects (18-25 years) responded negatively to the question whether they voted in the last election.
At the same time the Election Commission of India ran an advertisements trying to convince this India that voting is ‘in thing’ and it is ‘happening and cool’.
In public debates and discussions, the learned and the opinionated urge that the strength of democracy is when people exercise their right to vote.

Is this attitude of indifference good or bad? The answer depends upon which class you are representing: the nation or the politicians.

The youth’s indifference to the political process and politicians cannot be summarily condemned. It is quite possible that in their scheme of things this is the best way to deal with a situation.

What would you end up with if one tries very hard to evaluate and select an egg from a basket full of identical others? Would it not be better to save this cognitive energy and time to actually select a potato from the heap where choice can actually be exerted?

The consumer psychology to be indifferent and withdrawn is completely legitimate when brands in consideration are alike (lack of perceived differentiation). Most of the political brands notwithstanding their claims tend to have high degree of commonness on issues that are important to the youth of this country (technically called decision mediators and evaluative criteria). In the perception of the Youth the most important challenges facing this country are: corruption (29.1%), global warming (19.1%), cross border terror (18.5%), population explosion (15.6%), poor education system (11.1%), and poverty (10.2%). The others include lack of infrastructure, poor health system, and lack of entrepreneurial spirit.

The major political brands inIndiacome very close to each other (commoditized) on the aspects important to the youth like corruption and bad governance. Hence there is no excitement about voting. No matter how hard one tries to be discriminating and discerning in the political process (extensive or elaborate decision process) the conclusion is likely to be ‘all are same’ (criminal background, muscle man, professional politician not statesman, hunger for power, ideological ambiguity) or that their distinction lies on an aspect irrelevant to the youth of this country.

Closeness of brands in terms of their identity and image sucks the market into commoditization spiral. This perception of similarity causes customers to be indifferent and withdrawn because it is not worth it. Rigor in evaluation and selection does not leave the customer with a better result (more satisfying outcome).

One of the best findings of this survey is that  youth  in this country are apolitical (34.1%) and secular (29.1%). That is, they are not burdened by the baggage of the past and hard dividing lines. This certainly is indicative maturity. And here lies opportunities to create meaningful political brands (brand identity changes and rejuvenation). The political brands should revisit their core (brand essence) and align and evolve to incorporate what is important to the Indian youth. Brands must resonate to create power and pull (discrimination at the point of voting machine). The youth are intelligent; it is for political brands to burst the commodity perception (POP- ‘they are just the same’) and create (POD- ‘this brand is good for us’) that is relevant and meaningful.

Why would you go out of your way to locate and buy a brand? Because it delivers   what you want better than others.

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4 thoughts on “Voter Indifference, Youth, Political Brands and Indian Democracy

  1. Fantastic!!! Sir. You have explained the dilemma being faced by the Indian youth today and again emphasized that marketing and branding is integral to everyone’s day to day life. All i can say is Respect.

  2. Interesting post Sir. But while the robustness of the branding concept outlined in the post cannot be doubted for once, its applicability to the given example is disputable. I feel that electoral process (politics) as a category itself has ceased to remain relevant to the young Indian voter ( of certain class and education). This segment of voters have been subjected to the classical conditioning that ‘politics is useless/bad’ through out their developmental years and hence they dont see any virtue in elections as a category. The whole category needs a facelift and not just individual brands. Unless that happens no amount of persuasion (Ads) or gimmick (anti corruption law) will win back voters (falling in the outlined segment).

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