By Shweta Sharma, New Delhi, March 24 IANS | 8 months ago

With the election campaign hotting up, party supporters can be seen flaunting trademark AAP caps, NaMo t-shirts bearing images of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or sipping coffee from a mug bearing a smiling Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

With the Lok Sabha elections just a fortnight away, supporters are not shying away from wearing their political preferences on their sleeves, with the trend catching the eye of the young, the old and also those who want to make a style statement. So, apart from t-shirts with catchy slogans, one can buy cups, wall clocks, mobile covers and even laptop sleeves.

Saurabh Kochhar, co-founder at Printvenue.com, a web portal that provides printing and stationery needs, said that the trend is nothing less than "fantastic".

"This reflects strong affiliations and the people are being so vocal about it. So, you wear what you speak," Kochhar, who has sold customised poll merchandise like posters and mugs, told IANS.

"It looks like we are slowly going the US way - you either support the Republicans or the Democrats," he added.

So now one can see slogans "Saara zamana hai AAP ka deewana", "AAP jaisa koi meri Dilli mein aaye toh baat ban jaaye", "India First-Youth for the Change" and "Main Nahi, Hum" boldly printed on wall clocks, t-shirts, mugs, mobile covers and even laptop sleeves.

Amit Kumar, a 28-year-old media professional, feels the trend garnered huge response due to smart marketing coupled with the need to flaunt your support.

"Smart marketing, coupled with the need to show your support like they do in the U.S., has ensured that Modi jackets, (AAP leader Arvind) Kejriwal mufflers and Rahul Gandhi's patened 'look' find takers across the country. As for the youth, they are the new brand ambassadors it seems," he said.

And cashing in on the growing trend are the various e-commerce websites, with their target audience being those between 20 and 40.

"When Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power, the rules of politics were redefined. Politics became the hottest topic for discussion among youth. At that time we realised the potential for political fan merchandise in India," said Sahil Baghla, co-founder, bluegape.com.

Bluegape, a customisation platform, is replete with political merchandise with a caricature of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal smiling at you on the website's homepage.

Baghla shared that designers like TheFilmyOwl, BalrajKN among others did the designing for political merchandise.

"We first understand the brand positioning and then design merchandise around it. Manufacturing is done in-house," Baghla said.

Agreed Tony Navin, vice president - business development, Snapdeal.com, an online marketplace, which started selling election merchandise a few months ago.

"Due to the upcoming elections, we have seen a surge in sellers who are looking to sell political party merchandise," Navin said.

He added that though the site makes available products like wall clocks, ipad and mobile covers, T-shirts remain the most sought after product.

Interestingly, the sale trends reflect that Modi and Kejriwal surge way ahead of Gandhi.

According to Baghla, while NaMO (Narendra Modi) merchandise is popular in cities like Mumbai and Hyderabad, AAP wins in the national capital and Bangalore.

"In Hyderabad, out of 10,000 users, 8,360 users bought NaMO merchandise. And in Delhi, out of 10,000 users, 7,165 users bought AAP merchandise," shared Baghla.

Baghla further revealed that 78 percent of those opting for AAP merchandise are males, while 87 percent of those purchasing NaMo products are males.

"About 68 percent of AAP users are in the 20-28 age-group , whereas 63 percent of NaMO users are in the 27-34 age-group," he explained.

For Madhur Dhyani, the trend is a welcome change.

"I have friends supporting a particular party, while I support the other. We wear T-shirts and caps that reflect our respective political preferences and indulge in healthy debate. It is all in good spirit," the 32-year-old engineer said.

(Shweta Sharma can be contacted at shweta.s@ians.in

(Posted on 24-03-2014)

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