Anupam Acharya is a busy man this poll season. Co-founder of a Delhi-based online merchandising company Blugape, Acharya is selling a whole new range of merchandise – featuring politicians like BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal – to all parts of the country.
With the 2014 general elections witnessing increased youth participation, political fan merchandise is a rage among young voters. Not just Blugape, India’s top online stores like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, mobile phone and laptop covers, all with a dash of politics.
Youth between 18 and 30 years of age are the main consumers, online retailers say. “Politicians like Modi have a rock star-like fan following among the youth who wear their political preferences on their sleeve,” says Acharya.
The Lok Sabha polls may see more than 100 million first-time voters, many of whom favour political merchandise that looks ‘cool’, adds Acharya.
Products featuring the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and BJP are the most popular. Sale of Modi products is the highest in Hyderabad while the AAP is the current craze in Delhi, says Acharya. In Bangalore , AAP is ahead while Modi leads in Mumbai.
“The design and content of the products make them popular,” adds Acharya. Some of the more innovative T-shirt slogans read, ‘AAP jaisa koi meri Delhi mein aaye toh baat ban jaye’ and ‘Keep Calm, Vote For the BJP’.
The NaMo smart phones, launched a couple of months back, also generated tremendous interest on Snapdeal, an online retail store. “We had 200 plus bookings within the first few days, T-shirts are the fastest selling item right now,” says Tony Navin at Snapdeal.
Interestingly, youth in metro cities aren’t the sole driving force. “About 55% of our customers are from tier 2 and 3 cities,” says Navin.
The trend is new to India but is commonplace in the US, where presidential elections are marked by merchandising mania. “Youngsters want sleek and funky products, not just the traditional badges and scarves,” says Saurabh Kochhar, CEO of Printvenue, an online personalized gift store.
The craze has spread to home furnishings too, with online stores like Fabfurnish selling wall clocks and cushion covers with political messages. “We started a week back and are already shipping 150 products daily,” says Nirmal Saraf, sourcing manager. The products are priced between Rs 299-599 after discounts.
But not all of it is just business. Modelled on the exclusive online Obama store, a group of entrepreneurs have launched an exclusive Modi -merchandise store, called NaMo Store, to promote ‘Brand NaMo’. “ For us, Modi signifies change and we want to be a part of the change,” says Pragnendra Rahevar, one of the 14 ‘volunteers’ who run the store.
The store, stocked with high-end stationary and apparel, started selling Modi silver coins a few days back. “We sell about 1,000 products every day, reaching as far as Assam. The profit from our store will go to a social cause,” says Rahevar.