Saturday, 20 February 2010

Market positioning 2

SUBIC is Gordon, and Gordon is Subic.

The man has intimately woven the Subic brand into his persona, the two are almost now indistinguishable. From an American backwater with hardly any source of income apart from the entertainment spending of naval officers and men, Dick has made a destination haven of sorts for the place. Today it boasts of entertainment centers, gambling casinos and first class hotels.

And of course, it has business and industry too. Gordon wants to duplicate the microeconomy that is Subic, into the macroeconomy that is the Philippines, and he is building his platform on that promise.
And of course, what would an election be without Erap? The man for the masses he claims to be, with the common man’s aspirations tagged into his platform. And probably he is right to stake his wagon to such a horse. After all, these are the people who flock in droves to see his movies, and therefore it is only logical that they will be the ones to support him in his drive to regain the presidency.

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Brother Eddie? Oh, of course the man of God. Righteous, morally upright and incorruptible, with the fear of God on his side.

Brother Eddie wants to transform the country into a bastion of conservative Christianity, much like Pat Robertson of the 700 Club in the United States wants to do. And there too is a significant chunk of the electorate waiting to be tapped.

These men are the products, and we are the buyers. How they position themselves before us, dictates how we will assess them and make our choices. Do we want an honest and upright person?
Is technocratic competence more important for us? Do we need a man for the masses? Or is religious zeal uppermost in our echelon of values? Whichever trait appeals to the most voters should win, no?
In theory, yes. But just like the dilemma of market positioning, it isn’t always quite so simple.

Credibility in positioning is important. First of all, how believable are their declared attributes? Noynoy claims to be an honest lad. Does he have the credibility to do so?

Gordon passes himself off as a transformational technocrat. Does he have the track record to do it? And Erap comes with the guise of being a man of the poor. Do his deeds bear him out on this claim?
It is easy enough to claim any number of attributes, but proving it is another thing. And a false or weak claim to an attribute can very well derail a person’s candidacy, and expose him or her to being a charlatan.

The other important consideration is the uniqueness of a position. How crowded is their place in marketing space? Are others already occupying it? For instance, Gordon and Gibo have fairly similar stakes to the “technocrat” attribute. Just as Dick claims to be the management guru of the lot, Gibo also says the same thing about himself.

Who will people believe between them? Or will they end up splitting the vote into two?
The same goes for the “man of the masses” title. Manny Villar thought he had appropriated the tag for himself, but at the last minute Erap surprised everyone by having his candidacy accepted by the Comelec. Which leaves Manny in a very tight pickle indeed because his “Tondo boy” credentials are also the same ones which Erap is using to entice voters to his side.

It is going to be an interesting marketing game all the way to May!

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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2010.

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