On Tuesday, the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races neatly summed up why the GOP hasn’t been winning elections. One campaign did exceedingly well at bringing in not only women and Latinos, but black voters too. The other campaign did predictably bad with those demographics due to relying on typical Republican strategy.
Christie knows something that lot of conservatives, including Cuccinelli, don’t – that the GOP dearly needs the votes of blacks, Latinos, and Asians moving forward but conservative messages simply aren’t making it into those communities. When the message does make it in, it rings hollow and out of touch.
The GOP has a marketing problem.
This is where yogurt comes into play. For years, yogurt has been marketed mainly to one demographic – women over the age of twenty. One year ago, a stroll down the yogurt aisle would yield nothing but pastels, white, and labels abounding with flowers and promises of better digestive health.
This color scheme does not tickle the fancy of a 30-year old man. In fact, he would probably be embarrassed to have a basket full of pink and white cartons at the checkout.
Major yogurt companies realized this.
Instead of giving up on the male demographic, these companies are taking a head on approach to entice men to buy yogurt. Take a look at Dannon. Recently, they started marketing yogurt with more traditionally “male” color schemes and are calling it “The New Protein.” Powerful Yogurt Company took up this approach as well and packaged their yogurt with black and red labels and a slogan that says, “Find your inner abs.”
The result? Men are buying yogurt. Same product, different marketing.
While the GOP probably isn’t in a position to use toned body parts to sell conservatism, the lesson still applies. The Republican Party needs to learn how to keep the same product but package it for various demographics. People have different experiences that influence their frames of reference and are not monolithic in how they absorb information or in what appeals to them. The Democrats know this and have done a great job of segmentation — it just happens that their ideas are bad. On the flip side, Republicans have great ideas and no idea how to market them outside of the middle-aged white demographic.
It will only benefit the Republican Party to become more culturally aware and re-shape their messaging. Chris Christie reflects that and Cuccinelli didn’t; Christie won and Cuccinelli didn’t. Christie consistently had offices, flyers, and events in minority communities. Cuccinelli all but ignored minorities and used less than savory rhetoric, look at the “rats” comment regarding immigrants, and he paid for it.
A practical suggestion would be for the RNC and other conservative groups to bring in non-traditional conservatives to help with branding and messaging. Conservatives and Republicans hate being saddled with the stereotype of being all older, white, upper-class males because the movement is much more diverse than that. However, the majority of hires for big conservative organizations look like they own stock in Vineyard Vines and Brooks Brothers.
The conservative movement needs to diversify those with decision making abilities in regards to marketing and engagement, and not just in terms of melanin. What’s needed is a variety of personalities, styles, and backgrounds.
Take the issue of Obamacare – conservatives know that it is going to hurt everyone, particularly small businesses and millennials.
Do you know which group starts small businesses at two times the national average? Hispanics. Do you know which group has the fastest growing youth population in the United States? Hispanics.
This issue should be a home run for the conservative movement, but we as conservatives and Republicans are dropping the ball because we do not know how to articulate our opposition to Obamacare and our solutions to the current healthcare issues in a manner that resonates with the Latino community and other demographics.
If the GOP wants to win future elections, they cannot continue to ignore the power of marketing. The yogurt industry and Chris Christie have proven that it is never too late to reach out to new demographics. In the future, our emphasis should not be on purging the party over split hairs on strategy, but on expanding the movement through superior and more effective marketing.