One of the reasons why undeserving candidates get elected to Parliament is the attitude of indifference towards politics. In branding terms, this kind of reality is triggered when meaningful difference between brands ceases to exist. Hence it does not make any sense to waste cognitive resource on evaluation and selection (brand parity). Pulling out of decision process by supplanting the ‘thinking’ with ‘routine’ is a logical approach. Branding is all about achieving resonance through relevant differentiation. But most of the political brands appear to be devoid of meaningful differentiation and a large portion of citizens have ‘pulled out’ from the election process. The consequent reality is low voting rate. This particularly is beneficial for the political class if parties scratch each other’s back.
Kejriwal and IAC’s contribution to political marketing is in the form of ‘disruption’ of the equilibrium. They have brought the issue of corruption at the centre of the political discourse. Corruption in politics has been taken for granted and hence had become a low involvement issue (all brands similar wrt to corruption). But by their aggressive and innovative approach they have managed to highlight corruption as one of the most important aspects in political brand selection process. Almost identical strategy was once used by Godrej in refrigerator market. Godrej sought and successfully managed to differentiate their brand on the platform of PUF (which was a common insulation used in fridge). The brand appropriated an attribute in consumer’s mind to achieve discrimination. The campaign’s focus was to pull customers back in to decision process and make them evaluate brand with a modified criteria.
People can be categorized on the basis of their involvement with politics. Majority is indifferent and has situational involvement (when the need arises or elections take place). The other group enjoys enduring involvement (as shown by high level of interest in product/ election). People differ in their approach to handling problem depending upon their level of involvement. Involved people deliberate and process information extensively but people with lower level of involvement resort to short cut heuristics (in our case looks of candidate, name, and ease of recall). This is how bad candidates get elected because they escape scrutiny because of low involvement.
The campaign of IAC has triggered the interest (arousal) of this silent majority into politics by shifting people from ‘habit to decision making’. Now people are beginning to look at their affiliation with political brand with the new angle of corruption- which had become dormant. The selection based on ‘peripheral’ aspects is getting replaced with critical evaluation (central route to persuasion). This shift is good for Indian democracy. When Indian electorate begins to discriminate political brand on the core aspects then only good people would make it to the Parliament. People are encouraged to think hard about their selection of political brands.
In a situation of equilibrium based on product parity, the best strategy for an entrant is to ‘disrupt’ consumer cognitive frame. IAC has done precisely that. People are taking a look at politics, politicians and political brands in new manner. By this shift from ‘habit to decision making’ IAC has managed to ‘cut through the clutter’ and carve out a position for itself.
Good or bad, that’s debatable. Now political parties whether like it or do not like IAC, they just can’t afford to ignore it.