One thing any decent marketer will tell you is that is that markets have splintered. Mass markets now exist only for needs, not products. Even utility markets are starting to splinter. But it is we as consumers who are now getting harder and harder to target and identify.
And so it goes for politics. The mass market strategy of a one brand fits all approach is no longer relevant or applicable to modern politics in a consumerist society. Leaders who cling to some old fashioned life raft of an idea of a holistic value concept in the stormy seas of the modern market/electorate are likely to find themselves adrift or at the mercy of the sharks of social media.
Instead the value that is sought by us in a political dimension is something along the lines of the co-creation of value logic that Vargo and Lusch (2004) talk about in their seminal services marketing paper. That is that we want to create value directly with a political organisation. They give us what we want, which meeting our needs, and we give them what they value, money and information.
So say a big hello to the co-created democracy. What? Co-created democracy. Democracy at our level. Created on our scale. On issues that we have decided are important for us. Issues that make us become engaged and part of a collective movement overnight, we were become active on social media until we get what we want. Our needs met. Value delivered to us.
Most of the time these collective movements are not about society wide change. Micro instead of macro change. Call it micro-democracy. They could be if the environment and the mood of the market was right a la the Arab Spring. No, most of the time these are issue specific movements created from sometimes the thinnest vapours of ideas or activism by just a few, yet sometimes being made up of thousands or even more in a matter of weeks.
Using the tools of post-modern democracy, mainly social media, to achieve change and create movements on issues at a speed the activists of long ago could only dream of. The three minute movement as Derek Sivers so cleverly described in a recent TED talk.
Uniting that common need, that person seeking to feel valued and active in a campaign without being more than 3 steps away from the coffee machine in their own house, anonymous behind a random username, yet talking to thousands of people who have the same need they do – change on a particular issue.
All of us are part of some form of co-created democracy. It could be the local park down the road that needs to be saved from the forces of darkness. It could be a small business network seeking concessions from government. It could be parents seeking changes to child care. It could be, well anything.
What it really is though is modern democracy at its very best.
The voice of the people. Well the people who feel engaged and involved about that issue. Who want to co-create value with the organisations and stakeholders with the power to resolve that issue to create positive value for all. They freely interact with each other without the rigorous borders or guidelines of branch meetings or committee’s that say lots and do nothing. Instead they upload and download, comment and like, debate and discuss, all as one, but only on that unique need that has brought them together.
This fluidity of formation, development and numbers make them hard for any politician or organisation to spot. Yet they can be lethal to any political career to try and stop. Don’t show any acknowledgement and sympathy and you will look out of touch. Just ask Wayne Goss about the Koala Electorates that saw him lose in Queensland in 1989, or the shock jocks of commercial radio, or Kochie and breast feeding… well you get the picture. I hope.
As soon as one goes, another crops up, just as fervent as the last, and usually made up of an entire different segment of people but based on that one need, that one issue. No way to divide and conquer here. The micro-democracy is as strong as it is fluid. The smart politician will try and co-create value with them, and use it as a way of differentiating their brand from the others to all those not in that movement.
This is democracy with substance, the only spin cycle that on the dryers at home. Empty and devoid of participation or involvement at tired and fatigued branches required by mainstream parties. Mainstream parties who are neither engaging or connecting with the market until they tap into a micro-democracy issue. One that is alive and well. Creating an engaged and involved movement for the needs of the masses. We don’t really care about the broad lifestyle values of parties, leaders or anyone else. We care about value being created with us, by us and for us. At our level. The co-creation democracy level.