Every four years, we Americans take our well-practiced consuming cleverness and leverage it to make decisions that will have much longer term national and global repercussions than our choices in material possessions. As consumers, many of us have learned to see marketing for what it is, and now demand much higher standards of the brands that seek our loyalty. But, are we similarly tough customers when it comes to our voting decisions?
Let's take the Sarah Palin vice presidential pick for example. The McCain campaign's decision to put her on the ticket clearly has women's market implications. My question? No matter your leanings, will you be using your savvy shopping skills to evaluate that brand?
Some points to consider as you compare and contrast:
-Are Palin and her views relevant to your life, or is she more pink packaging around a product you'd never otherwise buy?
-Would you choose to support Palin because you appreciate her take on the issues that are important to you, or do you immediately give her your loyalty simply because she's a smalltown mom and so are you?
-Do you see true positive change in the Republican platform with her on it, or do you see a "for women" label on the last decade's product?
-Does the feminine touch make the negative, competitor-bashing approach seem more relatable, or reflect a brand that hasn't talked to any women lately?
Those questions may not seem that tough, but they actually are hard for people to get to. As voters, especially, we may have to force ourselves to ask them.
In politics as well as marketing, the "customer" your brand needs to serve is the toughest one. Obviously, that customer is rarely the one that will switch brands because another brand offers a symbolic 10% off coupon to make it seem like it actually cares about her weekly grocery bill.
There may well be women who are swayed to vote the McCain ticket due to the current Palin buzz, but we should all be tougher to sell. Why forget our discriminating consumer skills when they are so needed?
In the early twenty-first century, savvy consumers and voters are past marketing to women 1.0. Instead, they expect that brands, whether consumer products or politicians, will deliver 2.5 level wares and marketing.
Flashy "look at us, we love women" efforts are mere distractions from the bigger, common issues of most Americans. Whether we are shopping for a house, car, President or Vice President, each of us needs to take responsibility to compare, contrast, read deeply into the web site, and explore the brand's history and past successes and mistakes. With that due diligence behind our votes, the country will end up with the best leading team.