Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

User avatar
SHARK
Savant
Savant
Posts: 14609
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:03 pm
Location: Abu Dhabi
Flag: Sri Lanka
Contact:

Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

Postby SHARK » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:31 am

What Sri Lanka saw on 10 February, 2018 will go down in history as a show of the ‘power of a Sri Lankan voter’. A typical Sri Lankan may look submissive, quiet, and gentle but they are decisive and are change agents. We saw this on 15 January, 2015 and again on 10 February, 2018.

Lessons from consumer brands

We have seen this consumer behaviour many times in brand marketing. Walls ice cream is a classic example in Sri Lanka. Over Rs. 2 billion was invested by the company on promotional work but given that the product was not in line to consumer needs, the global brand was rejected by the Sri Lankan consumer. The same manufacturing plant was bought by another company and the marketing mix was adjusted to suit a Sri Lankan requirement and today, the brand Cargills has over a 30% market share with just a fractional marketing spend that was invested by the Walls brand. This is the power of the Sri Lankan consumer. We are not an extension of South India. We are very different to an East Asian with clear preferences in taste and choice.

Reality in February, 2018

If we do a reality check of a Sri Lankan consumer purchasing, as per AC Nielsen the overall consumption has dropped in the whole of last year in succession (quarterly) – the first quarter by -3%, the second quarter by -2.5%, the third by 3.5%, and in the final quarter of 2017 by -3.8%, which means the situation is continuously deteriorating. Even though this has been highlighted at many forums, there has been no correction strategy from the policymakers.

Hence, in my view, the high voter turnout where people came after weddings and in boats to cast the vote on 10 February, 2018, was an indication that Sri Lankans wanted change. Rhetoric like free Wi-Fi by the brand head of the UNP in Musali was a classic case in point of the leadership not understanding the consumer reality. I guess it is a lesson for business too that understanding the perceptions and attitudes of a consumer based on their consumption is key to sustainable business.

Deep dive

If one does a deep dive, we also see that if we analyse the consumption patterns in the household, food and personal care segments, the same phenomenon exists across the country. The red flag from a Sri Lankan consumer is very clear.

The consumption has dropped in the personal care segment on a quarterly basis. From a -3.9% in quarter one to - 5.5% in quarter two, whilst in quarter three to -5.4% and in the final quarter of 2017 it touches a -6.1% which was very serious given that a typical consumer is constant when it comes to personal care lifestyle.

I guess a similar analysis should be done on other sectors like consumer durables and industrial product categories to understand why such a drastic behavioural change was seen on 10 February, 2018. One key reason coming out is obvious – disposable income dropping.

Power of a brand name

If we move to the 10 February election result, some key points emerge from a consumer behaviour point of view. One of them is how much a brand can be stretched. The logic being that in just three years, brands selected at the presidential election, brands selected on 8 January, 2015 and general elections in August 2015, have lost their flavour and competitor brands (that was disposed on 8 January, 2015) was selected once again by a consumer. It will be interesting to find out if the brand power of Mahinda Rajapaksa moved consumers or whether it was the product attributes like cost of living, corruption etc. that moved voter behaviour.

Some are speculating the behaviour demonstrated on 10 February, was a protest vote against the current Government. This can be researched by a brand equity study typically in marketing. It will be interesting to find out.

Colombo?

Another interesting behaviour pattern seen on 10 February was that the brand that faltered across the country (UNP) has been picked up in Colombo. It is very clear that the consumers of Colombo make purchase decisions on a different parameter to the rest of the country. Democracy, freedom of media, equality in front of the law can be strong triggers that induce brand selection in Colombo whilst out of Colombo will be more basic criteria like cost of living, roads built etc. I guess. Hence, making decisions on the market sentiments of Colombo will be inaccurate.

We see that a typical rural consumer, who is almost 80% of Sri Lanka, had a mindset that is totally different in nature. Hence the product offering to this consumer group has to be very different to Colombo.
image_2cc9cb6cc7.jpg


Intelligent voter

A key point to note is that the theory SOV (share of voice) = SOM (share of mind) = SOMkt (Share of market) does not hold ground when it comes to a Sri Lankan voter. The people who were vociferous on the media (talk shows and on stage) in the current coalition Government have lost their seats.

A classic example is Attanagalle (Chandrika Kumaratunga), Kalawewa (Duminda Dissanayake), Tangalla (Mahinda Amaraweera), Beruwela (Rajitha), Kotte (Harsha), Tissamaharama (Sajith Premadasa), Moratuwa (Eran Wickramaratne), Panadura (Mahinda Samaraweera), Hali- Ela (Dilan Perera), Kaduwela (Sujeewa) just to name a few.

All these geographical areas were campaigned by the heavyweights on media but could not garner voter support. What it means is that the Sri Lankan consumer is not just media driven but they think and analyse before making a purchase decision (in this case giving a vote). A point to add is that a typical Sri Lankan may not be very vocal or vociferous in their external behaviour but they are prepared to take serious decisions and instil change.

Economic ideology

Moving away from the consumer dynamics (in this case the voter behaviour) and evaluating economic policy, we are faced with an interesting challenge. The concept of the people of a country repaying the country’s debt as opposed to taking loans internationally to repay debt, are two different schools of thought. Whilst the former was practiced by the current Government, the latter was practiced by the earlier regime.

Whilst the country’s total debt is around $ 10 billion, there are merits and demerits on each of the above strategies. Maybe it will be interesting analysing how other countries with a similar debt situation handled the payment modality.

This study can also give an insight to what the strategy should be for Sri Lanka in the future. Be that as it may, one of the root causes for the change of voter behaviour was the increasing taxes due to the debt that accumulated in the last 10 years and hence the impact to disposable income. The corruption issue of the Bond scam may have added fuel to the fire that moved Sri Lanka voters to a drastic decision.

What next?

In terms of what next, from a political front, I guess within this week the dynamics will unfold. The media reports that there will be significant changes, but from the international end, the future of the FTAs (free trade agreement) route to economic development and selling of state assets to India and China to meet the debt repayment might take a backseat.

It will also be interesting to see the international reaction to the changes brought on by the people of Sri Lanka on 10 February, as there were many reports that certain foreign governments were responsible for the regime change that happened on 8 January, 2015. I guess time will reveal it.

The author is an award-winning business personality in the private sector and been the chairman of three large state corporations in the country. The thoughts are strictly his personal views and do not reflect the views of the organisations he serves in the private or public sector.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

prasa2004
Member
Member
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:27 am
Location: Singapore
Flag: Singapore

Re: Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

Postby prasa2004 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:32 am

Author is right on dropping of consumer spending. We already saw this in reports released so far GRAN- TAFL- HAYL-SINS-JKH - KFP - CCS etc. Also the dent caused by high taxes seen and will be further aggravated after April 18 when IRA comes into focus. As reforms will be taken backseat what Gvt should do is to double up production efforts (reduce strikes-holidays- or even introduced addl workdays) and be very firm on decision making w/o dilly dallying. This year will be crucial as high debt payments and with current situ, unable to get FDI our Rs will go down and will be saddled with huge imp cost. PM and President should act fast as already 03 days gone and still no decision. What a waste of energy/money investors having for last 03 years and this nonsense needs to stop. Other markets are world apart see the opp cost even foreigners faced with. IMO ever one of us should use social media or whatever forum to pressurize the leaders to learn their lesson and move on

User avatar
matrix
Member
Member
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2016 10:03 am
Flag: Sri Lanka

Re: Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

Postby matrix » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:30 am

Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

WHY SHOULDN'T ?? :))
Stuck in a generation where LOYALTY is just a tatoo, LOVE is just a quote & lying is the new TRUTH

User avatar
Blue Whale
Equity Analyst
Equity Analyst
Posts: 7401
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:14 am
Location: Asia
Flag: Sri Lanka

Re: Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

Postby Blue Whale » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:37 am

Very impressive thought points and I can't resist myself from adding some more for the discussion.

If we consider UNP as a brand then the result reminds us the requirement for a new brand ambassador to reposition it in the minds of the consumers, here in voters. I would like to draw your attention to the brand of 'Lifeboy'.

Lifeboy was a very old and popular soap brand those days. When the time passes by new brands emerged with new features such as fragrance, color, labeling, etc but Lifeboy were still that red-pink color soap. The taste of consumer has shifted and the brand "Lifeboy" converted to a type of soap to be used only to wash animal mainly dogs. In those days we used to refer this brand as "Balu Saban" because it was only used to wash dogs. Then when things are unfolding Unilevers had a serious thought on this brand and did many adjustments such as changing the fragrance, size, color etc. They went on to design a new branding strategy and implemented it. Now the consumers are referring to Lifeboy as a premium soap that is not only refreshing the body but protect the body from germs. Now the same brand is a billion rupee brand in Unilevers product portfolio.

Similarly UNP was successfully launched among the rural masses within the tenure of late R.Premadasa and became the party of the poors. This was the foundation for UNP to rule the country for 17 years. After that the brand UNP saw a rapid decline in the taking of the same mass market because the brand was getting outdated. The consumers referred to it as a product for Urban sector which is about 20% of the country's population. Then the brand UNP suffers a serious loss of value ( no of votes received). If the rulers taking lessons from Lifeboy lesson then they should understand that the brand UNP needs a new look in all facets of it from top to bottom. Not only that but it needs a new branding strategy as well to reposition it in the minds of rural masses again. This is the only way they have if they are hoping to shine once again in 2020 and beyond by their own feet but not on others shoulders.
Value Invest Profit

User avatar
SHARK
Savant
Savant
Posts: 14609
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:03 pm
Location: Abu Dhabi
Flag: Sri Lanka
Contact:

Re: Why did voter behaviour change on 10 Feb?

Postby SHARK » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:58 am

i agree with almost all comments by our members.
its not late for grand old party to turn the tides in their favour.
they have very good 2nd tier leaders.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”


Return to “Politickz”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests