Compare Political & Retail Strategies

Just published an excerpt from my recent book Fast Shopper, Slow Store in the Retail Touchpoints publication

As a post script to this chapter, the 2013 election underscored the value of digital BIG DATA. When President Obama hired an analytics war room that was five times the investment in his 2008 campaign, we knew where the focus would be.

Pointedly President Obama’s team hired a supermarket sales promotions “Chief Scientist” called Rayid Ghani. His team rated PERSUADABILITY. . . the art of knowing who was likely to “swing” blue.

Mr. Ghani knew where to target.  This data helped them target media and played perfectly into the mobile (personal) opt-in strategy that the Obama team excelled at throughout the campaign. It allowed them to successfully knock on BLUE doors not RED and target BLUE (and possibly BLUE) phones and steer the vote.

I like to draw a parallel between politics and retail as it illustrates that tactics in one vertical as applicable cross-industry. I would say it is essential for banking, publishing, and entertainment verticals to understand that they are not alone.

The connected screen and the new (painfully) independent shopper are disrupting all incumbent  industries.

Many people in the business of connecting to retail customers are busy reworking their game plan. It may reassure the reader that no one is immune to digital disruption, which has left most industry folk, from brands to broadcasters, from publishers to politicians, questioning the way they engage with their audiences.

The 2012 U.S. presidential election was a perfect example of brands desperately seeking buyers. As the candidates claw for positioning, it is evident that the election process is (surprisingly or not) similar to selling a product in a hugely competitive retail market. Each electoral cycle demonstrates the challenge of courting an increasingly digital public.

The techniques that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney used to market their platform and gather votes are the same as those embraced by brands to manage their market presence, build engagement, and move their audience to a sale. All the challenges of chasing the itinerant mobile public are the same as those facing bewildered shopkeepers.