Challenger to Watch 2017: Patanjali
In Baba we trust.
This is a brand which has democratised the idea of Ayurveda in India. Ayurveda is an all natural approach to health and wellbeing, rooted in ancient Indian traditions. Once assumed to be a proposition only attractive to the wealthiest in Indian society, Patanjali are proving that Ayurveda products have widespread appeal, with a rapidly growing middle-class choosing natural alternatives to synthetic and chemically-based products.
The brand's ambassador is its originator - Baba Ramdev. Initially famous as a yoga guru, teaching yoga lessons on spiritual TV channels and holding mass workshops, he’s increasingly known as the outspoken co-founder of fast-growing Patanjali Ayurveda. Often critical of brands originating from the West, Ramdev has encouraged consumers to question their habitual purchasing decisions. ‘These [foreign] companies mix their products with harmful chemicals which cause addiction’, Ramdev told the Wall Street Journal in 2015.
Founded in 2006, Patanjali Ayurveda began selling natural medicines and personal care products, but in recent years have expanded their portfolio into a wide range of FMCG products, including food and beverages. Recording revenues of $769m in 2016 and growing by 146 percent across the year, established FMCG giants Unilever and Procter and Gamble are losing dramatic share to Patanjali, and things could get worse for them, with forecasts estimating Patanjali will reach $1bn in sales by 2020.
One of Patanjali’s biggest selling products is their cornflakes – all the more surprising as Kellogg’s has struggled to sell cornflakes based upon an iron and vitamin-led proposition for many decades in India. Apparently, the power of yoga has turned out to be more persuasive than iron supplements for the Indian masses.
With Baba Ramdev planning further expansion in 2017, launching new apparel brand ‘Paridhaan’, they are now entering categories which do not immediately link to their core proposition. Will a nation obsessed with international brand names be willing to give Patanjali a shot when it comes to such an emotive category as fashion?
Much of Patanjali’s success is based on the relationship and trust Baba Ramdev has with the Indian consumer. Patanjali is not a faceless multinational conglomerate. They are Indian and proud, and driven by a charming personality people identify and connect with. It remains to be seen if some of the recent findings from the Advertising Standard’s Council of India over misleading and inaccurate advertising tarnishes some of that long earned trust. A fascinating challenger to watch in 2017.