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Now that Grandma likes him, here’s what brand Rahul Gandhi must do.

The latest on social media and other media platforms doing the rounds about Rahul Gandhi is a sweet li’l story; that of Grandma wanting to meet Rahul Gandhi on her 107th birthday. This was conveyed to the man himself via his twitter handle. Smartly, the response came real-time. Rahul Gandhi tweeted a personal birthday and Xmas message to Grandma. Plus a hug.

Now that’s a story that could light up a smile (even among citizen fence-sitters). Make no mistake, what brand Rahul has done with such genuine deft touches is upped the ‘likability’ quotient. Does that matter? You bet, it does! However, such likability isn’t enough as brand Rahul must now move into ‘credibility’ territory. The latter is the conversion zone, one that will matter at the ballot boxes. So here’s the social science behind what I am recommending. Social Psychology research has thrown light on the impact of what is termed ‘source attractiveness’ and ‘source credibility’. Remember, all political parties and their respective leaders go out to get citizens to buy into all their talk about what they stand for, and their promises of a better future.   

Such ‘sweet’ talks must first find an audience that’s willing to listen. Much of such initial receptivity depends on ‘source attractiveness’, which in turn depends on the source’s ‘familiarity’ and ‘likability’. The Grandma story and similar ones are hitting home runs to seal ‘familiarity’ and ‘likability’ for brand Rahul. In buying (read, voting) terms this means brand Rahul is gliding in nicely into the consideration set of citizen decision makers. Will they cast their lot with the brand? Now that depends on ‘source credibility’. Social Psychology research reveals that for a message to seem ‘credible’ and therefore get ‘internalized’ by the receiver, the source must be perceived as an ‘expert’ and ‘trustworthy’. Here’s where brand Rahul needs more work. Having crossed the attractiveness hurdle, he must now gallop towards greater credibility by dispensing messages that center around issues that require expert handling. Clarity on issues of governance and growth conveyed in trustworthy manners is what will seal the issue of ‘credibility’ for brand Rahul.

If that were to happen (i.e., attractiveness + credibility), I can bet the ballots will turn. 


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