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If brands can’t differentiate, they can’t emerge: Baba Ramdev

13-December-2017
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If brands can’t differentiate, they can’t emerge: Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved is one of the top players in the FMCG market with a turnover of Rs 10,561 crore in the financial year 2017.  The exchange4media group took pride in conferring him with the title of IMPACT Person of the Year 2017 Award on Monday evening for shaking up the hegemony of MNC players with his 'Swadeshi' marketing pitch. On this occasion, he spoke exclusively to the Chairman and Founder of the group -- Anurag Batra about his work and the way ahead for his brand. Excerpts.
You are a brand and so is Patanjali. You are so famous in the media, using the advertising tool in the right way and impacting everything. Apart from that, you have also established a business with Acharya Balakrishnan. You’ve done it all. What’s left to do now?
People look at achievement, power, prosperity, success, respect and all materialistic things. All these things are just by-products. I follow the great and inspiring men. As Yogeshwar Shri Krishna God says, there is nothing in this world that is so important to achieve. I’m blessed with unlimited knowledge, emotions and strength so I’m doing it. Has the sun ever asked that in return for the sunlight I give to the world, what will I get in return? So, I’ve learned that all existence is working for me so my existence is for all. This is my life. This is my truth.

Life is all about balance. On one hand, you preach co-existence of every religion but you are dominating the FMCG space. Isn't co-existence applicable here?

I believe in oneness, co-existence and harmony. But co-existence doesn’t mean that don’t let any Indian brands work out. Colgate first started warning Indians against using coal and salt on teeth and questioning the use of Babool. Then suddenly one day, an ad from the brand questions ‘Kya aapke toothpaste main namak hai?’ They first criticised our age-old methods of protecting teeth and replaced it with chemicals. So that’s why, I want to tell people today that if your teeth are not in right condition, it’s because of your toothpaste.

Four to five years back, when I was in Rajasthan, I met an old man who was around 90-years-old but his teeth were still in good shape. When I asked him about his toothpaste, he revealed that he never used one. I’m not saying that don’t look after your teeth’s hygiene but if you gargle properly, your teeth remain good. So, in this country, no toothpaste brand has ever been able to stand out and reach heights of success. Dabur tried its best but it was only successful to an extent. After we came up, we strengthened our brand and then toothpaste only meant Dant Kanti.

People talk about technology but what technology does go in creating a soap, shampoo or toothpaste? They have just been fooling you. If any brand from the fairness cream space comes and argues with me and proves that the cream has lightened a dark complexion, I will name Patanjali after him.

We made a conversation about using aloe vera to battle acne. We spent 1 per cent and received Rs. 1,000 crore from the brand we established. We have changed the GRP and TRP philosophy which people talk about. All we wanted to do was to use and sell Indian products and benefit the Indians apart from instilling a confidence amongst fellow citizens that we can also establish a brand. It was my goal, I’m doing it and will keep working towards it. If brands like Colgate and Unilever can spread all over the world then why can’t an Indian brand like us? If they do it, its professionalism but if we do it then co-existence is at risk.

You are working since the last 30 years. Many people think that the Modi government has come to power and a wave of nationalism has spread. As the nation is changing, what are the pearls of wisdom you would like to share with brands and industry people?

I would like to tell brands to innovate because if you can’t differentiate, you can’t emerge. ITC had double financial power than us but still couldn’t crack it and is running in loss because they didn’t differentiate. We are four times ahead of ITC in the FMCG space. So, I say, if you do something new, you’ll be able to gain value out of it. Like when we started our flour product, we gave an extra fibre atta. By the end of 2017, we are reaching 40,000 tons per day. For 2018, we aim to reach to 1 lakh ton per day which we are likely to.

Adani and Ruchi Soya were big brands in oil space. Except for us, no other company had the courage to sell oil on MRP. It gave us a value addition. Everyone was preaching to eat refined to avoid trans-fat. Now all scientists are stating that eat natural oil/ghee. Today, we are the number 1 Kachi Ghani Sarso Tel and with us emerging, we changed the industry.

Everyone was selling biscuits, we started selling biscuits without white flour(maida). On every product, we gave a value addition. We also beat Bournvita by starting Power Vita. We will soon disrupt Horlicks too.

I say that work on value addition. If Modiji would not have walked a different path, would he ever become the Prime Minister? So, you constantly have to do something new. When I started teaching yoga to more than 50,000 people, the yogis were the one to criticize. People started saying that this baba is disrupting everyone. I believe that to create a brand, first differentiate. Second, do something continuously because only then you’ll be able to achieve something. You will take a while to build trust. If you use shortcuts and reach, there will still be problems.

Also getting trustworthy people to work with you takes years. Because, these days trust is broken easily. Select the right people and 75 per cent of your work is done. I work on daily closing and personally look at the mapping. People who do weekly and monthly closing can never succeed. So, work on daily closing, retain performers and let go of those who don’t meet the targets. Apart from this, to create a brand, you must never compromise whether its quality checks, costs or raw materials.

Environmental air pollution has been a grave issue these days. So, what is Patanjali doing to improve air quality?

In the coming two-three years, in Patanjali, we will not take electricity from outside. In all our plants, we will use solar energy. The surplus electricity, we will sell to the govt. We believe it’s our responsibility to work towards environmental wellness. We use the waste we generate in our factories. An example of this is the dish-wash bars we make using them. Apart from this, every year, we also make it a point to plant many trees.

Despite being such a big country, we haven’t been able to get medals at Olympics. What would be the reasons?

We use words like the superpower and aspire for India to be No. 1. Tell me about one national news channel at the international level? There is only BBC and CNN. People need to understand that it won’t become a superpower in one way. You have to look at it in a holistic, inclusive and collective way. We are working on something which will take five to seven years. We are working on a facility and education for sports and to provide the under-privileged residential accommodation and education as they have immense talent. We aim to create the biggest sports academy in the world.

You went to the Facebook office and more than 13 lakh people came to interact with you live. You are a brand in yourself, so why do you need the media?

In the religious media, we have five channels. I could start a news channel or newspaper myself but didn’t. We believe in co-existence so we thought that if we start doing everything, what will the media do? Instead, we have helped many media-houses from declaring bankruptcy.

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Gunn comes to BBDO India via DDB Mudra and Colenso BBDO.