'Marketing the national flag'
'Love for one's country' is a good characteristic for any individual
to possess no matter which part of the world he lives in. In any
country, the government is the biggest promoter of patriotism.
Politicians love to make patriotic speeches, exhort citizens to do their
patriotic duty and present themselves as shining examples of patriotism.
One political party trying to outdo the other in terms of level of
devotion is a common phenomenon.
Patriotism, State and marketeers
The State, through appeals to patriotism, inculcates an attachment to
the State, instead of the nation. The State advocates complete and
absolute obedience to the dictates of its leaders as a sign of love for
Sri Lankan marketeers attempt to foster the idea 'my country, right
or wrong' as a prime example of patriotism. Any rational, clear thinking
individual can see the foolishness of 'my country, right or wrong', and
it is a recipe for disaster.
Is 'patriotism' good and easy business?
While the concept of marketing is about satisfying individual
customer needs and wants, the concept of patriotism is about collective
thinking and action.
Patriotism demands that the individual subjugate his desires to the
collective interest of the nation, even sacrificing himself, family and
We see an increasing number of marketeers in Sri Lanka joining the
'patriotism bandwagon' and riding free for business and marketing
reasons. The synergies due to the single minded positioning of this
communication and influence over consumer choice provide the rationale
for this platform.
Few people question whether this patriotism is actually in their best
Consumer asked to sacrifice?
My focus is not on politics but on business and marketing.
In the recent past, patriotic product and service brand attributes
has been forced on the Sri Lankan consumer to achieve business goals. In
many cases, patriotism is used to cover up product or service gaps to
exploit the patriotic feelings of the consumer to influence purchasing
Many companies use patriotism as the last refuge to market their
products rather than focusing on the right value proposition that will
For consumers, purchasing local products and services is a good way
of expressing his or her love for the country. Most patriotic consumers
exhibit an emotional attachment to the brands that offer patriotic
If patriotism has any value, it would be as friendly competition
between equals who have the same rights, where one hopes that all
competitors do well, but that his own side does the best.
From an economic perspective the merits of patriotism are numerous.
Most States in the world use it to demand blind, unthinking obedience to
the dictates of the leaders.
The consumer behaviour in Sri Lanka is 'funny'. Every patriotic Sri
Lankan consumer expects everyone else to buy 'local' but he himself buys
what offers value to him.
The market share split in every industry bears ample testimony to
this. You may search, analyse and be convinced, more importantly use it
to formulate wining business strategies. My conclusion is, patriotism
plus real value can make you win; not patriotism alone.