How do you launch a product that is not too different in form factor than the existing competition and if you have extremely limited resources to market this product and take on the established giants in the industry? You take the approach of ‘disruptive marketing’.
Wikipedia quotes disruptive innovation as an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.
Terming politics as an industry would not be completely erroneous or over-reaching. It is fairly easy to draw parallels between politics and business. A business entity is similar to a political party in terms of structure and operations.
- Businesses are, at times, centered on a single person and political parties are, usually and unfortunately, centered on a single family, like the Indian National Congress.
- There are businesses with a proper corporate structure where individuals are responsible for business units, like the Tata Group and there are political parties that have office bearers who have a reasonable say in the goings-on of the political party, like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- The businesses are answerable to their shareholders for the way they handle the business entities and the political parties are supposedly answerable to the voting populace, although, the latter has not worked as envisaged. Had it worked as thought, India would not be home to over half of the world’s poor and destitute.
- The financial transactions that a business engages in must be reported to the several authorities that have been created to ensure transparency and prevent corruption in their dealings with other businesses or individuals. The financial dealings of political parties, though, are far from being transparent.
What Arvind Kejriwal has done by accusing Robert Vadra of being hand-in-glove with DLF and the Haryana government for indulging in acts of corruption, is take the route of disruptive marketing.
He has nudged the balance of power and the resultant power equations in India’s political scenario by taking on the established players, the Congress and hopefully on October 16, the BJP. The Congress might accuse him of playing to the media gallery to get publicity and playing a ‘political game’, but isn’t this the same thing that these parties have been doing in the name of caste, religion, regionalism and what not, for the past 65 years? He is playing their game and they, for sure, do not want someone else to play their game.
A look at Arvind Kejriwal’s approach from a marketer’s point of view is pretty commendable.
- He has pre-launched his product (his party is not registered with the Election Commission of India, yet) with a bang and how!
- He has understood the under-currents in the mood of the nation on back of several scams and he knows that the tax-paying ‘mango people’ (after Mr. Vadra’s Facebook comment, I consider myself a mango person too) want a different kind of politics in India. A brand of politics that does not tolerate corruption.
- He ‘appears’ to be sticking to his brand of politics for now. The promoter’s faith in his product is paramount, when launching a product. The more visible it is, the better it augurs for the product.
- His product launch has been covered by all the media avenues possible – Print, Television and Web – on back of only 2 press conferences.
- He has not spent an amount to talk about for promoting his product. The media has propagated his message far and wide. The foreign media is listening right now; they would talk and write about him soon. There you go! Global visibility for a product that isn’t even registered with the authorities yet.
Any product launch is fraught with faux-pas and Arvind Kejriwal’s product launch has them too.
- The roll-out strategy appears to be too short-sighted to accommodate a blitzkrieg of a marketing campaign. The bigger question is – what happens after the pre-launch buzz dies down?
- He is dealing with competition with deep pockets and has admitted that funds for India Against Corruption suffice for paying salaries to their associates only till November 2012. The financial stability required for a sustained product roll-out is missing.
- His marketing campaign is hinging on media coverage for the product launch. What if the media houses decide to sideline him as they have done for many such ‘products’ in the past?
The bottom line is that Arvind Kejriwal has stirred the hornet’s nest and ruffled many a feathers. Would his brand of politics hold good for India or would the political powerhouses crush him and his party for transgressing into their sacred property? Only time would tell.
Expect more disruptive innovation and marketing from Arvind Kejriwal in the days to come as this is one of the extremely limited ways in which you can launch a product and create a huge buzz around it, with meager resources.