“The multinationals look at India as a market. For us India is our home,” said Acharya Balkrishna, MD, Patanjali Ayurved as he confirmed plans to take the homegrown brand global.
In his address to a packed room at the inaugural session at Goafest 2017, Balkrishna spoke passionately about how Patanjali Ayurved looks at a new market. “We do not do a market research and find out how big is the market before taking the plunge,” he said.
Balkrishna who turned up on stage in a dhoti and kurta (traditional wear) pricked the bubble of many ad men by saying that his organization did not make ads with glamourous men and women but rather focused on making products that were effective. Taking a swipe at Close-up toothpaste, he said that his toothpaste Dant-Kanti did not make people fall in love. “That’s not the role of a toothpaste. We only make a toothpaste that cleans your teeth effectively,” he said. He also took a dig at ITC for its ads on Bingo wafers saying they would not make chips that made consumer faces go crooked, much to the amusement of ITC executives sitting in the audience.
It's unlikely that Balkrishna, a student of Sanskrit and "not a management graduate" has heard about David Ogilvy. But he brought back memories of the advertising legend's famous "consumer is not a moron..." quote when he repeatedly spoke about looking at the consumer as a family member and doing things that would benefit society at large.
He said that the company followed a strategy – if it benefits the consumers and the suppliers, then the company will definitely benefit from that -- instead of beginning how a new product will benefit the organization.
Giving the example of Amla juice, one of Patanjali Ayurved’s first launches, he said that it was started because of an unique issue facing the farmer community. The farmers wanted to cut down amla trees as the crop that was fetching them Rs 3 per kilo in the mid-1990s had not moved up even after more tha a decade. The cost of labour was more than the realization. Then Baba Ramdev, the yoga guru and the force behind Patanjali Ayurved decided to buy the entire produce from farmers. Balkrishna recalls that he was advised to tie-up with Punjab Agro and make juice from the crop. Baba Ramdev then went on television and told his audience on the benefits of Amla Juice. That endorsement sent sales shooting through the roof. He says that the price of the crop has now increased to nearly Rs 16 per kilo.
The other example that he gave was of reducing the price of Aloe Vera juice. When imported brands were charging and exorbitant sum of Rs 1500-1600, Patanjali managed to reduce the cost to as little as Rs 150. Replying to a question, he said the reduction in cost would not come with a compromise in quality. He said his team of more than 200 scientists took extreme care to ensure that consumers got the best products.
He exhorted ad agencies and marketers that before making consumers believe that the product was best for them, they had to internalize the question and ask themselves, “ would they get their family to use the product. Make conscience your gatekeeper,” he said.