Has Patanjali cut down on TV appearances?

Out of the 16 weeks this year, the company did not appear in BARC’s list of Top 10 Advertisers for six weeks

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: May 2, 2018 8:59 AM

Homegrown FMCG brand Patanjali Ayurved has been making headlines with its success story that has caught the attention of one and all. The desi company has come a long way, taking on multinational giants such as Unilever, P&G, Nestle and Colgate-Palmolive.

One of the factors contributing to Patanjali’s growth has been its aggressive TV advertising, which has made the brand a household name across the country. However, the Haridwar-based firm, it seems, is cutting down on its TV ad spends.

Two years ago, around this time, Patanjali was all out flooding TV channels with TVCs on its new launches. There were speculations that last year around the same time, it had bought nearly 25 per cent inventory of all top news channels. Cut to this year, the Baba Ramdev-led company has been judicious with its ad spends, especially television.

Out of the 16 weeks this year, the company did not appear in BARC’s list of Top 10 Advertisers for six weeks. Even in the other nine weeks, the brand featured at the bottom end of the category (between five and 10). In fact, in the latest Week 16 (April 14-20), Patanjali was at the bottom spot with 16,539 insertions.

As per the January-December data sourced from Adex India, a division of TAM Media Research, the month-on-month advertising volumes of Patanjali have come down in 2017 and 2018, compared to 2016.

With January as the index month each year, 2016 witnessed a month-on-month growth in volumes, reaching 127 per cent in the month of April. Interestingly, 2017 witnessed the highest dip in volumes with 38 per cent in April, which remained the same in March 2018. 

According to media reports, the indigenous brand has decided to keep its ad spends at Rs 570 crore this fiscal year, with mediums other than TV getting a large share. This probably explains its decision to be the associate sponsor for Vivo Indian Premier League on Hotstar this season, a move that clearly indicates it knows where the visibility is.

Talking about it, Patanjali Ayurved spokesperson SK Tijerewalla said the company changes its advertisement media mix as per the situation.

“We haven’t reduced our ad spends. It has been intact and consistent at the same level. Our media mix has changed as per the demand of the situation,” Tijerewalla said.

Industry insiders agree with Tijerewalla as digital is the need of the hour.  According to B Krishna Rao, Category Head, Parle Products, Patanjali is selecting mediums according to its budget and brands. “Perhaps it thought that it was wise not to spend on Star Sports during IPL and rather concentrate on the digital medium.” 

Sujata Dwibedy, Executive Vice President, Carat India, Dentsu Aegis Network, points out that Patanjali is spending significantly on HD channels. “So the moment you start spending less on SD the overall spends come down,” she said.  Having said that, Dwibedy does agree that the spending has slowed down. “But then a lot of advertisers have been quieter in the first quarter. We have to wait and watch," she added.

Brand expert N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, feels that it is a smart move by Patanjali. He believes that the brand is getting matured and calculative with its ad spends.

“When you conserve money and spend it at the right places, it employs better efficiency of advertising.” He pointed out that going ahead, there will be planned expense as now it knows what it wants. 

Tijarawala pointed out that Patanjali did not feel the need to repeat their communication of informing the consumers about the benefits and ingredients of their products. 

“Our products rely on basic benefits from communication. Once people adopt the products, there’s no need to push the advertisements.” 

Tijarawala said Patanjali is looking to enter four new domains, packaged drinking water 'Divya Jal', milk and milk products, napkins and sanitary napkins and apparels for women, men and kids. 

“This will keep us busy with promotions and will require heavy advertising. Advertising budget will increase up to as much as 1.5 times depending on the need," he pointed out. However Tijarawala couldn’t give a definite time for the start of the promotional activities for Divya Jal, though the bottling arrangement and the pilot project for distribution in Maharashtra has been initiated.  “In a month, it will have a Pan-India presence." 

Industry experts believe that Patanjali could be cutting down on TV ad spends as the player has other areas to focus on such as distribution, pricing and packaging.

Rao feels that Patanjali Ayurved must have felt the need to consolidate. “You realise that there are lots of ground-related issues like packaging, pricing and product quality that need to be resolved. You need to keep fine-tuning your offering. When you have to do all of that, it’s better to reduce your advertising.”

Meanwhile, some are of the opinion that there is deviation in the trade. For instance, according to a marketing expert, who didn’t wish to be named, the company that started off with exclusive outlets subsequently tied-up with Future Group for better accessibility and exposure.

“Consumer can today go to D-mart and Big Bazaar to purchase Patanjali products. So there’s a digression. As a result business of exclusive Patanjali stores slowed down which has definitely impacted ad spend to an extent,” the expert said.

Also, barring few products like Keshkanti, Dantkanti, ghee and honey, its other products don’t have a huge draw, he points out. This propelled the company to start giving offers in the last six to eight months.

The expert mentioned, “Earlier, it was commendable that Patanjali products were sold at MRP be it offline or online. Now you will see offers on old-coded stock. That’s the change being observed.”

But let’s not forget the fiscal year has just started. Industry experts believe that Patanjali Ayurved may increase its ad spends.  “Don’t be surprised if they come back with a bang in mid-2018. There is a likelihood that they will tweak their spends,” predicts Rao.

“You will see spends of Patanjali going up,” Dwibedy adds. 

Though this appears to be happening soon, it will amp up during Diwali when the Patanjali will launch apparels and garments. 

“A category like fashion needs more advertising. We will have a big launch during that time,” Tijarawala added.

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