Are voters, consumers? A qualitative exploration of the voter-consumer analogy in political marketing

Peng, Norman and Hackley, Chris (2009) Are voters, consumers? A qualitative exploration of the voter-consumer analogy in political marketing. Qualitative Market Research, 12 (2). pp. 171-186. ISSN 1352-2752

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Abstract

Scholars from a wide range of backgrounds have compared political and commercial marketing and advertising. Some have argued that the differences between these two spheres are relatively slight, others that they are fundamental. In this paper we attempt to problematize, deepen and add nuance to the voting-consumption analogy drawing on a range of literature in the political marketing and brand marketing fields. In order to add an empirical perspective to the discussion we draw on tentative findings from a small-scale exploratory case study of voting attitudes. The responses of eight focus groups of British voters to two well-known Labour Party election broadcasts were interpreted using theoretical concepts from brand marketing and also from cultural studies of political marketing. In conclusion, we argue that there may be aspects of audience response to political advertising that are incompatible with brand marketing theory. ‘Voters’ and ‘consumers’ do seem to share some resemblance in their affective, cognitive and behavioural responses to advertising, which is perhaps unsurprising, since political parties and commercial entities do sometimes employ similar marketing techniques. However, in this study these voters displayed certain responses that differentiated them strongly from consumers. This implies that the analogy between commercial and political marketing has its limitations. We conclude by suggesting that the voter-consumer analogy is highly plausible when viewed on a macro-level but becomes weaker as research focuses in on a micro-level analysis of the individual within the voting context.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
ID Code:3246
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Deposited On:30 Nov 2009 09:51
Last Modified:09 Sep 2014 22:08

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