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Mobile to tip the next Sri Lankan president?


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Given the media blackout from today, the challenge will be who gets the share of voice with a potential voter with clever media strategies that can lead to a share of mind and thus lead to a behaviour on 8 January. Whilst traditional media like TV, radio and press sure move consumer behaviour, the fact of the matter is that in today’s connected age, personal mediums will be the name of the game.                       Share of voice If I am to be specific, Sri Lanka has 21 million mobile phones, which is over a 100% access to the potential voters, whilst we have 2.6 million fixed phones, which may mean almost 50% access to the five million households in the country. The internet usage standing at 2.7 million who are essentially the younger voter targeting mediums can play a key role in the swing that can propel the next president of Sri Lanka from a very practical standpoint.   Consumer insight On the 21.3 million mobile phone users, it is estimated that smart phone users are between 20-13% of the users which gives us a view of the behaviour on the use of apps, YouTube and Facebook. It also tells us the behaviour of social media tools and online purchasing habits that may be at play. This gives us an insight into how brands can use this medium to pull heartstrings and nudge the brain to action which is where the mobile can tip a voter to appoint the next president focusing on the floating voter. Let’s accept it, today’s consumer gets a hearty laugh by browsing the net, being connected with those they love and also get entertained online and this is the power that this medium has on a selection of a voter. Let’s watch who will use this medium creatively in the next three days.   Size Whilst the mobile can be a weapon for marketers, we must keep in mind that the size of the screen is small and it has a limitation. Let’s accept it, it is the smallest screen that one can have window to the brain of a voter. Especially in the case of Sri Lanka, which has an ageing population, lengthy messages and visuals will not be the fashion in the coming days but witty and eye-catching news items. Once again let’s see who will be more creative in the coming days.   Comparing One of the biggest advantages of the use of the mobile is that due to its screen size the message has be to small and thus consumers can compare offerings. With the data revolution and each Sri Lankan having the power to be a journalist, especially the younger consumer being very vocal, we will be able to compare information whilst getting reassured that the decision is right. What is important to note is that given that the purchase cycle in once in six years, the evaluation process will be stronger and hence the next three days will be crazy on comparing which option to select. As the old fox said, the mind of a voter before polling no one will know.   What will work Research states that meaningful connections are key to mobile phone marketing. Numerous marketing research studies reveal that today’s consumers search for local information that is global whilst they get multiple sources for data verification rather than trust just one source. Hence, any political candidate who wants to move voter behaviour will have to use multiple influencing forces with a unique message to drive consumer behaviour.   Strongest distraction Let’s accept it. The mobile phone is the strongest distraction that the modern world provides. I wonder if the law will change to state that a mobile phone cannot be taken into a polling booth. It distracts people from reading, watching TV, while at meetings and whilst talking, just to name a few.   My objective Whilst we who are professionals like to take decisions on rationality, we must keep in mind that many Sri Lankans will take decisions on emotions and state of disposition on the day of the elections. My objective post the elections is to track the share of voice and share of mind of the top two candidates and understand if the message that moved consumer behaviour was the share of voice. If so, what worked in Sri Lanka in one of the best marketing campaigns I have seen and what learnings are there for brand marketers like us.   (The author is an award winning marketer and twice won the Marketing Achiever of the Year award and is also a global award winner in brand building. Apart from brand marketing he also has experience in national global marketing and has served Sri Lanka and the South Asian region in his 17-year multinational career. Rohantha served the UN for five years, twice winning the ‘Merit’ award.)  

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