Leading or following? A theoretical analysis of political marketing postures

Stephan Henneberg, Stephan C M Henneberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While research exists on how political parties use political marketing instruments, there is a lack of emphasis on strategic marketing, especially with regard to theoretical frameworks of political marketing orientation. This can be seen as problematic in the development of political marketing research as a subdiscipline of marketing and political science. A concept is suggested that defines a party's orientation towards political marketing management using two crucial elements of strategic marketing theory regarding customer orientation: leading and following. Three generic types of political parties are characterised by their strategic postures using their stance on these two elements. The implications of strategic postures for the fulfilment of certain political marketing functions and organisational issues are briefly discussed. While traditional parties with a rigid content-based approach towards policy-making can be characterised as Convinced Ideologists, contemporary catch-all parties have moved towards being Tactical Populists. Whilst both these postures are prone to being perceived as dogmatic or untrustworthy and fickle, a third posture, that of Relationship Builder, is proposed. This integrates leading and following, by using a relational approach towards marketing, as suggested in the evolving literature on strategic marketing and marketing orientation. This Relationship Builder stance constitutes a theoretical posture that needs to be clarified by empirical research in the political arena. Thus, to foster further empirical and theoretical research, several propositions have been derived in a process that is in line with the demands of theory-building and hypothesisdriven exploration as suggested for this comparatively new discipline of political marketing. © 2006 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Political Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2006


  • Competitive positioning
  • Political market-orientation
  • Political marketing
  • Political postures
  • Public opinion


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