Is Asia far behind on adopting the latest political research tools?

Is Asia far behind on adopting the latest political research tools?

I confess to being a politics aficionado and these last few months have been exciting and unpredictable to say the least.

In my business life, I rely heavily upon insights about consumers, shoppers and customer behaviour to formulate decisions and guide recommendations on strategy and tactics. So it’s no surprise for me why savvy politicians want to get the inside ear of what makes their constituents tick.

In the last few years, political campaigns, at least in the West, have been increasingly built around the tried and tested research techniques any competent brand manager knows inside out.

It is no longer rare to read in newspapers how messages have been “focus grouped” before reaching the cold light of day. UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s “strong and stable” campaign slogan has reportedly been concept tested ad infinitum across key target groups, like swing voters.

But here in Asia are politicians using the same techniques?

I do not know but I suspect not.

In Japan at the moment, Prime Minister Abe is hell bent on changing the constitution and a specific clause, called article 9. Easier said than done, not only do two thirds of both parliamentary chambers need to approve, but it must then pass the gauntlet of a national referendum.

Japanese opinion polls have been far from consistent on this topic, a fact which should be sending shivers up the spines of strategists. For example a recent Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll revealed that 46% of voters were happy with the current constitution whilst the pro-change camp numbers 45%. There’s some evidence middle aged voters are open to change whereas the very young and older age groups seem to favour the status quo, exacerbating the conundrum.

I wonder about the reliability of quick fire quantitative surveys to divine political motifs, the majority of Japanese people keep their political affiliations well hidden.

I suggest Prime Minister Abe takes heed of Robert Burns address, “the best made plans of mice and men often go awry.” Perhaps he should call in Japan’s finest brand managers and researchers to guide him through the labyrinth?

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