With the approach of Lok Sabha elections in India, it is not just the candidates and parties appealing to get people’s attention, online sites and marketplaces seem to be keen to cash in on the election frenzy too. Political merchandise started being sold online about 3 months back, with its popularity being on the increase since.
A range of items in the personal accessories, utility and home décor categories are being sold branded with the logos and other related images of the major political parties. Companies and vendors present the political message or representatives of parties in a glamourous way on products like its done for movies or celebrities to cash in on their popularity. Many also utilize this as a gifting opportunity with bulk orders for T-shirts, caps etc. to offer to fellow party enthusiasts.
In January 2014, Tradus cashed in on the political fever first by introducing Aam Aadmi Party brooms for Rs 5 each. An instant hit, almost 2000 brooms were sold within a short span of two hours. After AAP’s win in Delhi, over 6000 brooms were sold in 3 days.
Earlier this month, merchandise portal Bluegape launched its political merchandise segment which has seen a 30% increase in sales by now. If the sales of products are anything to go by, Congress has a long way to go to regain trust from Indians. While customers from Delhi and Bangalore opt for Aam Aadmi Party’s T-shirts and caps, Narendra Modi enthusiasts from Maharashtra order Modi branded mugs, shirts and clocks. Congress and Samajwadi parties lag far behind as their products don’t seem to have as many takers due to the lack of a strong theme from the parties which makes it difficult for vendors to design products accordingly.
Snapdeal introduced the ‘NaMo’ brand of phones for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and now offers items for Aam Aadmi Party followers like phone and tablet covers and wall clocks. Sales has risen four-fold since the last month, with majority of sales coming from tier 2 and 3 cities, mostly in the age group of 25-40 years.
Political merchandise in the West
India is just trying to catch up, but political merchandise has been around in the developed nations, especially in USA, for years. The popularity and aggressiveness was heightened in the Obama campaign when alternative promotion and merchandising options were explored and probably exploited. Designer apparel was made with the pro-Obama slogans. What really stole the show were the “Cats for Obama” collars, for cats !!
Should an Indian seller explore selling Political merchandise?
Although of seasonal nature, trade enthusiasts expect the segment to be more stable throughout the year due to the increased public display of party loyalties. With the emergence and popularity of Social media, more people have access to opinions and thus have opinions themselves. The youth especially are more oriented towards flaunting their party loyalties, hence the popularity of this segment with them.
Also, there is demand for personal items like shirts and caps and even decorative house items branded with party themes and images, which people buy for personal use or for gifting purposes.
A very young but rapidly flourishing segment, a vendor with the means to produce political merchandise will succeed if he has new products/ideas to offer and the demand from customers is bound to increase with the election fever catching up everywhere.