How retailers are cashing in on election merchandise

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In the cramped bylanes of Old Delhi Not in terms of any strong political inclinations that the market-goers might have, but with respect to shops, which are brimming with election merchandise. A little before the Bara Tooti Chowk, a number of cubicle-sized shops are filled with stacks of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party flags, T-shirts with motifs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, scarfs carrying slogans of Aam Aadmi Party, etc. Also read: It is also not just limited to flags, caps bearing political party symbols, lapel pins, etc. Catchy phrases and slogans used by political leaders such as Since coalitions have long been associated with Indian elections, terms such as mahagathbandhan (signifying the coming together of various opposition parties this election) are also being used on apparel. And if that wasn Ever since sari-makers in Surat, in fact, unveiled what began to be called the Even e-commerce platforms such as Snapdeal and Amazon have multi-coloured saris bearing pictures of Modi for sale priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,500. And not just Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, too, have their faces on colourful saris. There Hence, we end up selling everything that we manufacture, Following the announcement of the 2019 Lok Sabha poll dates, the vigour to sell election-centric merchandise has grown multifold. The elections are scheduled to be held in seven phases across the country, from April 11 to May 19, to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. It It also stands a chance to lose the absolute majority with which it had won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the first for a party since the 1984 general election. The BJP is, hence, leaving no stone unturned to campaign and gain voters It The saffron party is also selling its own branded merchandise on Narendra Modi Earlier this month, BJP president Amit Shah also flagged off the After a three-day run around the city, however, the Election Commission The vehicles can now be found at the party Surprisingly, the amount of money that the BJP earned during that three-day run selling merchandise and accessories (T-shirts, hoodies, cups, stationary, etc) was much more than what most Indians earn in a year. It The money collected from the initiative will be directed towards funding the Namami Ganga project, aimed at cleaning the river Ganga, Comparatively, opposition parties this year are playing it low-key. The Indian National Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, etc, have no dedicated forum for merchandise sales. Reigning trends Two dominant trends that can be identified are that one, demand for BJP-specific merchandise is the highest so far, and two, the maximum demand comes from political party workers themselves. Echoing his statement, Delhi-based Saurabh Gupta, co-owner of Anil Bhai Rakhi Wala, a shop dealing in poll paraphernalia in Sadar Bazaar, says that in terms of number of enquiries, the highest they have received so far are for BJP-specific merchandise. Some new items such as balloons, stickers, NaMo merchandise, bands are also gaining popularity, Given the nationwide demand for election material, the manufacturing and designing of paraphernalia happens across the country. T-shirts we print here only by getting raw material from here and there. For instance, cotton is cheaper in Tamil Nadu. Erode is one place where we get cotton items from. Silk items we get done from Surat and most of the relatively cheaper material is manufactured in Mathura, The third trend being observed by some traders and manufacturers is a lack of extensive demand this election season primarily because of the digital-led approach. Delhi-based Kuldeep Bhalla, who operates two stores by the name of Phoenix Services in Panchkula (Haryana) and Paharganj in Delhi, says that even this close to the elections, the demand is still just gaining momentum. For now, we are only receiving enquiries, which aren Otherwise, we have only had enquiries from the BJP, Shiv Sena, etc, Then there are e-commerce platforms that are more convenient for the youth. Even we have our presence on IndiaMART.com and that The markets aren Online availability Bhalla is right. E-commerce platforms are also tapping the demand for election merchandise. A rudimentary search on online retail giants such as Amazon and Flipkart revealed that The slogan, aimed at securing a second term for Modi, can also be found on other apparel, notebooks, stickers, mugs, pens, magnets, etc, which are all available online. Amazon has a far greater variety of products on sale than Flipkart, but both have priced the merchandise in the range of roughly `200-`1,000. Commenting on the bestselling products, the spokesperson said that NaMo Again T-shirts and Modi coats\/jackets are the hottest-selling items. However, it And hoodies with Mahagathbandhan T-shirts with symbols of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party are available too. Two contrarian designs of T-shirts bearing the slogans, This availability of a wide range of products is not without reason. While the demand is spread across the country, much like in the case of offline sales, Flipkart said the eastern and northern parts of the country are contributing to almost 80% of their political merchandise sales for now. There are plenty of items available on IndiaMART.com as well where local vendors from across the country have put their election-centric items for sale in bulk. On the NaMo app, which has had over 10 million downloads so far, merchandise (priced at `150-`500) worth `10 crore has been sold so far, as per the BJP The Trump trail Prime Minister Narendra Modi selling his party merchandise via an app is nothing new. US President Donald Trump, too, did the same in the 2016 US presidential election campaign. The official Donald J Trump online store made his iconic slogan, In 2016, the slogan became a strong signifier of identity The merchandise is still available on the Trump website and even on common e-commerce platforms like eBay, and includes T-shirts, hoodies, etc, priced between $14 and $99. There are mugs, pet leashes, dog collars, playing cards, flags, beer glasses, swimsuits, sunglass holders, etc, with the MAGA slogan, all available on the website Iconic tweets by Trump such as It News reports published towards the end of 2018 noted that Ace Specialties had sold nearly $1 million worth of MAGA merchandise in that year. In another August 2018 report, the owner of Ace Specialties, Christl Mahfouz, said that since July 2016, the company sold over $20 million worth of Trump merchandise.

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