cha-cha danger: underestimating consumer sentiments
in consumer marketing, when you do something new to your brand like a new ad, a new flavor or a new perfume you worry about two things, almost of equal importance – consumer preference or rejection and absence of negatives.
these things you find out through consumer research. doing research is very important as you don’t want to launch something that consumers will not like or something that will not build more business for you. launching it, then failing is a waste of investment and a blackeye to the brand.
the first one, consumer preference or rejection is very straight forward. the research will tell you if whatever new thing you plan to launch is liked or not liked by consumers.
the last one, though a risky thing to do, you lanuch the new thing when there is an absence of negatives. for sure if you have a high negatives, it will eventually bite you. it might not make itself known at the start but it might eventually build up and accumulate to something larger than the positive that it will over-power it.
that is the risk that the pro cha-cha groups are taking. while the protest rally was not as large, it’s reckless to read just the numbers. most of consumer sentiments on political issues, unlike in consumer marketing, are latent. the vaunted “silent majority” is very real.
there is no such thing as silent majority in consumer marketing. consumer research in consumer marketing if done well pull these types of consumers out. they are never silent, they are always vocal.
these latent or hidden sentiments can be called to surface fairly quickly. and once called, it cannot be stopped. this is a country who has done two people power revolutuons, doing a third one will be easy.
the administration congressmen have declared cha-cha thtough con-ass has been abandoned. given the obsession and persistence of arroyo in extending her term of office, con-ass as a way to do cha-cha may for now be shelved, but there are other ways to do it. and it’s almost sure, just like in the past, they will try again but in anther form.
consumers or the electorate has spoken many times before on cha-cha. and the voice says the same thing – they don’t want it. when will the administration finally listen to it?
Con-ass bid in House derailed
MANILA, Philippines—The Charter change (Cha-cha) express train was derailed on Friday after running head-on against the most broadly based civil society mass protest in Makati City since the declaration of a national emergency by President Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006.
The 10,000 crowd that packed the intersection of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas did not come up to the mammoth scale of the people power demonstrations at Edsa that deposed President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and President Joseph Estrada in 2001.
But the explosion of rage against Cha-cha expressed in the Makati multisectoral rally was sufficiently powerful to force the Arroyo administration to abandon the constitutional revision drive.
The rally was spearheaded by a coalition of forces associated with the Roman Catholic Church, which also provided the mass backbone of the two people power movements.
House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor declared on Saturday that the House of Representatives had abandoned its plan to unilaterally convene a constituent assembly (Con-ass) to consider amendments to the 1987 Constitution without the participation of the Senate.
Strongest message yet
The Senate resolution was initiated by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who said it sent “the strongest message yet that the Senate stands united against the allies of the president in the Lower House to subvert the Constitution for dubious ends,” i.e., extend the term of the President beyond 2010.
Sign of intense outrage
Despite their perceptions dismissing the rally turnout as not as threatening as the mass protests during Edsa I and II, there were ample signs on the ground that the level of outrage against constitutional change has escalated and the groups now coalesced in the protest movement have increased.
They now embrace not only the Church-associated groups, but also leftist organizations, the major religious organizations, El Shaddai charismatic movement, big business leaders, leaders of opposition parties, senators aspiring for the presidency—all of whom joined the rally. These were the main components of Edsa I and II.
The Catholic hierarchy has been so outraged by the stepped-up drive by the administration to revise the Constitution to open the way for the extension of the President’s hold on power beyond 2010.
The opinion surveys show widespread revulsion at the thought of an extended Arroyo presidency.
Even the moderate archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, raised his voice in protest. “Let’s stop all this foolishness,” he said on the eve of the rally, voicing the sentiments of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines condemning the Con-ass congressional fast-track.
At no time since 2004 have public opinion surveys shown a decisive shift toward opposition to Cha-cha. A recent Social Weather Stations survey shows that 64 percent of voters rejected Cha-cha at this time.
While the numbers at the rally were not of the scale that would intimidate the administration from pushing its constitutional revision project, there are warnings that the demonstrations represent the head winds of a storm that is ready to break out if the forces behind Cha-cha ignore them.
Defensor may be listening to these warnings when he announced the abandonment of the overdrive for Con-ass without Senate participation.
Senate institutional opposition to Con-ass is the less important reason for the abandonment.
More important is the fury of an outraged public opinion building up behind the growing momentum of protests against Cha-cha being used as a weapon to smuggle Ms Arroyo into an extended term without electoral mandate.