Saturday, February 8, 2014

AAP : As a Marketer's Case Study

Its both interesting and fascinating to describe the AAP Phenomenon. From a marketer’s perspective AAP is a perfect case study to learn from. Its customer base or supporters so to speak involves an interesting mix, from ardent supporters to those like me, whose love affair ended with a heartbreak. The Product here is AAP and we look at how it got evolved and marketed. 

Different Categories of current AAP supporters/ customers are:

Loyalists/ Emoticons:
These were the people who were frustrated with corruption and price rises. The Introduction of the product had strong media coverage. Their main drive was the core product's claim of fighting against corruption, awe inspiring stuff indeed. It led everyone to believe in the power of change. Prevalent conditions and rising frustrations against current politicians fueled its rise. The Brand Ambassador & the OWNER, His Highness Mr Arvind Kejriwal – a man with impressive credentials was a great booster in attracting the loyalists.
  The product was launched amid much fanfare and with huge media coverage, unprecedented advertisement at a level which even Unilever, P&G, Nestle etc. cannot match. The media campaign was paid or free, only time will tell. Virtually a single player, AAP sweept popular sentiments and their brand slogans Vande Matram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai were carefully chosen to Inspire & Motivate. It opened up a new category of politicians, one that was said to be a blue ocean product

Loyalists have been transformed into an army of blind faithful who see no wrong. It’s no longer a movement, it’s becoming more a religion. Those who support it are professing extreme hatred against those who are not. Slowly and slowly they are getting more abusive, more derogatory, all in the favor of the CAUSE. The Cause, is however now lost and all that remains are illogical beliefs.

Discount Customers:
The core product of AAP has lost its sheen. The recent decisions to partner with congress have slowly and slowly added to modification of product. The effectiveness of the product is being doubted and we started having post purchase dissonance. So in comes company with terrific promotion activities, the freebies. So, it attracted those people for whom free water and discounted electricity are precious and were also biggest voter base during the elections.
   Interestingly these freebies were said to be the features of products as in, electrical bills were said to be inflated due to corruption and the product will solve all problems. Hence, nobody counter checked their claims because the campaign was so successful. Those few who did, were voiced down vehemently by sponsored blog posts to justify the rationale. Its another thing that now huge war is being fought between the companies and the government resulting in more increase of tariff to those not getting subsidized electricity.
Impulse Customers:
A shady survey conveyed with great tempo showing itself to be the superior product got the voters confident about product reliability. Interesting set added here were the NRI’s and IT/ITES people working outside India. There’s nothing wrong in going outside to seek jobs or educate themselves because they were not able to get here. But its shameful when some of these behave like snobbish hypocrites who despise everything there is in India. Most of the AAP's support comes from these people. They have no idea of ground realities, infact they wont even care to vote. But still believe they are contributing to India by propagandizing these causes. They practically have no points whenever asked to explain the faults in products but are always ready to communicate media snippets AAP propagates. 
For them supporting AAP is like a fashion statement. Excellent work here on creating the Brand Identity.

Need-Based Customers
With the celebrity like status of AAP’s core team, they attracted people of all kinds. Not to forget their self cleansing activities akin to Gangajal every person now wants to join AAP to fulfill their vested interests. Capt. Gopinath and Meera Sanyal had fought and lost elections and want to revive their career. Mallika Sarabhai relished the propect of having somebody forceful to be with her against Modi. Ashutosh, the guy with uncured anger management issues is the new clown in AAP Circus.
    Among the not so famous people also, AAP has served as a tool to surrogate market themselves. Its an interesting sight nowadays on Delhi streets, people who earlier were flaunting their congress links are now advertising AAP. Not sure where the money is coming from for these lakhs of posters, but one things is confirmed AAP has replaced the congress as face saviour for them.

Wanderers/ Ice Cream Supporters
Ice Cream Supporters, I first thought of this term when Anna Hazare fasted for Lokpal during my IIT days. I could see that most of the crowd who had gone there had no interest to what was going on, all they wanted was their 5 seconds of fame when a desperate reporter caught with them. They went stood for some time and then enjoyed the Ice cream from dozens of vans that were standing there, threw the wrapper on the road and came back. As soon as camera panned anywhere near them they started raising slogans and when the camera zoomed elsewhere they were more interested in discussing the girls who had come. It was a pathetic deplorable sight one that was never caught by any reporter. Eureka stuck again when you could see the same at the recent dharna, only difference was ice cream vans were replaced by tea stalls. Its a sad irony that the same dharna that AAP did was for women safety. 

     AAP's marketing campaign is one of the world's most powerful campaign in modern era. It has captured the attention of billion Indians and foreigners abroad. As they are passing the maturity cycle, pitfalls are emerging fast. The core product is losing its sheen as they are violating the fact they stood for.
   The parties funding and fake austerity of demanding govt homes are drawing flak. Difference within the party are emerging. Prashant Bhushan wants referendum on Article 370 and supports naxals. Somnath Bharti as a law minister (I am surprised how he got that considering his basic knowledge) thinks talking to a complainant on pretext of string operations is right, spamming & advertising porn films is a mundane activity, humilating Ugandian Women to suit a certain mob of Khirki is a heroic act and ordering police as rights of a Minister is a good thing. Kumar Vishwas has history of abusing Muslims at will, and cracking filthy joke on Kerala Nurses. Corruption allegations on Manish Sisodia misusing NGO's funds and overspending in the elections are other black spots to talk about. The nonsense dharna holding Delhi to ransom, the Binny episode and the recent anti women allegation by Ms Bhanduri are also drawing much criticism. 

If they are not able to control the post purchase dissonance they are likely to fall in decline phase which will be disastrous for their ardent supporters. All things aside, they did some innovative campaigning and attracted media spotlight and believed in philosophy that any publicity is good publicity. If only their product was as good as their marketing things would have been much better.

Note: For the sake of inquisitive few, the models I have used are the Diffusion of Innovation Model, Product Life Cycle Model and Customer Loyalty. For other specific terms go google.