Of gurus and grassroots

HARISH BIJOOR | Updated on March 08, 2018

No frills: Some products are better off being plain and simple. The Patanjali Food and Herbal Park at Haridwar - Photo: Kamal Narang   -  THE HINDU

Of gurus and grassroots

Why is Patanjali such a success in India? I hear the company has ₹5,000 crore in revenue?


Mini, Patanjali Ayurved has taken baby steps in reaching Ayurveda and ayurvedic products to consumers in India and the Indian diaspora over the last decade. Its products are basic (except for noodles, which jolts me, frankly speaking), of robust quality, functional and priced just right. The brands, in all their rusticity, do a fair bit of un-branding to categories that require un-branding, such as FMCG products of the basic kind.

FMCG offerings were pioneered by local players, who were then overtaken by foreign multinational companies (Unilever and Procter & Gamble, for example), and then by Indian MNCs with big aspirations (like ITC), and finally followed by the “Baba companies” such as the one Patanjali Ayurved represents.

Over each phase, basic FMCG offerings have strived to shed the commodity nature by hiking prices and imagery, and product compositions have gone as inorganic as they can. The Baba companies, led by Patanjali, for now, re-invent the commodity once again, with a holistic spin. And lo and behold, you have a very no-frills offering that promises the good old way of healthy living with healthy options. The price label is a further dose of consumer delight.

Patanjali’s success is intrinsically attached to Baba Ramdev. He is not a passive guru. Add to it the fact that he wears saffron, a colour that’s the flavour of the decade in India today. Controversy is his middle name. He is often aggressive, and wears his heart on his sleeve. This endears him to a large part of the masses who will be his consumers.

Patanjali Ayurved without Baba Ramdev is just another company. The company has set off shivers in corporate boardrooms in India. And rightfully so.

Companies such as Dabur and Himalaya have offered ayurvedic products for long. How come their imagery is not as hot as Patanjali Ayurved?

New Delhi

Jolly, products that come with a spiritual guru as its brand endorser at the top do better in this category. The idea is a simple one. This is not a corporate product, it is one put together with the care and supervision of a Guru. That seems to work in India. Small is beautiful and big is routine. This is why Patanjali Ayurved with Baba Ramdev does better than the Baidyanaths and Daburs of the world in terms of imagery.

Published on September 29, 2016

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