Are voters, consumers? A qualitative exploration of the voter-consumer analogy in political marketing

Norman Peng, Chris Hackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


– The purpose of this paper is to deepen and add nuance to previous explorations of the voter-consumer analogy in order to generate new insights into wider applications of the marketing concept.

– A conceptual analysis is supplemented and enriched with insights from a non-representative case of voter responses to political advertising.

– Findings suggest that limitations to the voter-consumer analogy revolve around the differing contexts of marketing in each case and reflect differing audience responses at the micro-level.

Research limitations/implications
– The empirical component of this study is not representative or generalizable. However, it is used not to verify generalizations but to add qualitative insights to the conceptual discussion. Findings suggest that research which applies the marketing concept to non-commercial settings, especially political marketing but also possibly extending to social marketing, non-profit and public sector marketing, should be cautious in assuming that consumers of non-commercial marketing respond in the same way to marketing initiatives as consumers of commercial marketing.

Practical implications
– The research has implications for the application of the marketing concept in political and other non-commercial contexts.

– The application of the marketing concept in non-commercial settings as well as commercial settings has become so common it is often taken for granted. Yet the behaviour, attitudes and responses of consumers in these different settings may diverge in important ways at the micro-level. Explorations of the applicability of the marketing concept in different settings are relatively rare and this paper adds a previously unpublished empirical aspect to an original conceptual analysis which aligns secondary research from disparate sources in political science and cultural studies as well as marketing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-189
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Market Research: An International Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • vote-consumers
  • political marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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