A marketing communications framework for small political parties in developed countries
Purpose ‐ This research aims to undertake a business theory application into the political marketing context, examine the degree and nature of its theoretical and practical compatibility, and develop a preliminary conceptual marketing communications (MCs) framework for small political parties (SPPs) in developed countries. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper is conceptual and incorporates and interrelates the findings of existing business marketing research as applied to the context of political marketing. Through a comprehensive literature review, it adopts a multi-perspective analysis and interrelation of three dimensions of existing theory: the behavioural, the contextual and the operational dimension. The paper eventually bridges the fields of political and business marketing, identifies the underlying causes of voter behaviour, and distils the critical factors of SPPs' marketing communications success. Findings ‐ The research identifies a number of critical factors of SPPs' marketing communications success and four principal SPPs' marketing communications findings: an increasing association between business and political marketing, an environmental context that stimulates and nurtures a symbiotic relationship between parties and voters, a predominant association of SPPs' critical factors of success with the concept of "perception management", and the existence of a number of discrepancies regarding the application of classical marketing theory to SPPs. Based on these findings, the research finally develops a marketing communications framework for SPPs in developed countries. Research limitations/implications ‐ While the conceptual nature of the research is a methodologically viable approach to understanding the complex interrelation of the elements involved, so early in the development of a contextually new theory, it is also its main limitation. Hence, the research considers the framework produced to be preliminary and that substantial primary research is further required to test and refine the individual framework components and to provide the necessary validity to the framework in its entirety. Originality/value ‐ The value of the paper relates to its focus on small political parties, which are largely overlooked by existing research. Additionally, the research adds considerable value to academic knowledge on the fundamental discussion on the applicability of business marketing theory to politics, also contributing an analogous political marketing framework to the existing literature.