Some small enterprises have found novel ways to tap into the election season market.

news Kerala Polls 2016 Saturday, April 23, 2016 - 20:05

With less than a month for the Kerala assembly elections, candidates are trying hard to reach out to as many voters as possible. What’s more, some small enterprises have found novel ways to tap into the election season market.

Besides being election time, the summer heat is unrelenting. Shafeer from Payyannur in Kannur district did not take long to identify a market in selling umbrellas with symbols of political parties. “Every year during summer, I put up an umbrella store. This time around, as per the suggestion of a couple of my friends, I decided to sell umbrellas that carry party symbols on them,” he said.

Party coloured umbrellas in Kannur

Early in March, Shareef approached an umbrella manufacturer in Maharashtra, who delivered 5000 umbrellas in various colors and with symbols of different political parties. Red-coloured umbrellas with CPI(M) symbol, tri-coloured Congress umbrellas and green ones with ladder symbol of IUML have found pride of place in his store. 

When asked about the absence of saffron umbrellas, Shareef pointed out the lack of support for BJP in the constituency to be the reason. “Some BJP workers did come to my stall asking why I am not selling BJP colored umbrellas. Even after telling them that I can get BJP umbrellas made if they place an order, they have so far not approached me,” he said, further emphasizing the lack of support for the party.   

Though this is the first time Shareef tried the idea of selling “political umbrellas”, more than three thousand umbrellas were sold in just a month’s time.

Sulfikkar from Thiruvananthapuram is another person who continues to successfully use the election season to stoke curiosity in people, thereby making more customers visit his food stall. His food stall- Aamena puttu kada- serves steaming hot puttu (steam cake) with a twist. Puttu is a breakfast dish made of rice flour. What is the twist here? Instead of the white puttu, Sulfikkar makes them in a variety of colors and has named them after political parties.

Aamena puttukada, Thiruvananthapuram

 

Sulfikkar started making these “political puttu” last year, when Chief Minister Oommen Chandy visited an indoor stadium located in front of his food stall. Creative at heart, Sulfikar added some herbs and carrots to his usual recipe and what came out of the puttu kutti (the vessel) was a tri-coloured puttu. The dish that resembled a Congress flag was named “Chandy puttu”.

However, when the Aruvikkara by-election came along in January this year, Sulfikar re-named the tri-coloured puttu as “Sabarinath puttu”, after the UDF candidate who won the election from there.

“Sabarinath puttu” dominates the menu at his food stall even after Sulfikkar introduced a variety of other puttu to cater to the election season. Some new additions were made to the menu for the assembly election season- bright red Communist puttu, green-coloured Muslim League puttu, orange-coloured BJP puttu and yellow-coloured SNDP puttu.

Sulfikkar makes use of carrots, beetroots, herbs and corn to create a colourful flavouring. The aroma of these “political puttu” has travelled so far that even Sabarinath himself has become a regular customer at the stall.

“Party workers come in large groups to my stall on a daily basis. It is fascinating to see that party workers belonging to different political parties come here, relish the hot puttu and indulge in political conversations,” Sulfikkar said.

Having political symbols on footwear is another experiment that has gained traction of late. Ali, marketing head at Mark Footwear in Calicut, says, “When dresses and hair styles change based on new trends, why shouldn’t we experiment this on footwear?”

Mark Footwear, Calicut

Skeptical about the reception of having party symbols on footwear, Mark Footwear stepped into the unknown by releasing a trial version to understand how people would react to the product. 

Ali said that the response to UDF, LDF and BJP slippers has been satisfactory so far and that they are looking forward to producing more, based on the demand for the slippers with party symbols on them.   

 

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