The success of Baba Ramdev in business is inspiring gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Ram Rahim as well as Aurobindo Ashram to enter the consumer segment with Ayurveda-centric products. Experts say the market for pure Ayurvedic or herbal products is still small even for Patanjali. Patanjali sells around 500 products, such as medicinal products. But ghee accounts for the largest share in revenue at 30-35 percent.
Healthcare is next at just 20 percent, where it competes with traditional players. Ameve Sharma left consultancy firm McKinsey & Co about two year earlier and is now busy planning the launch of new products, from herbal pain relievers to cough syrups. The third-generation scion of a century-old firm, Baidyanath, is seeking to ride the Ayurveda wave generated by yoga guru Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved, which has gone beyond traditional products to make use of the business potential of the ancient system of medicine.
At that time the Kolkata-based Baidyanath, which sells nearly 750 products, meanwhile, says it has no ambition to rival Patanjali, Dabur or Himalaya in the core FMCG segments. "We have been here for 100 years and want to survive another century in a sustainable way. No point getting into all FMCG segments and be a fringe player," said Sharma.
So, what did Patanjali that started in 1997 as a small pharmacy in the holy town of Haridwar do differently? For one, the company expanded its reach from 200 Patanjali outlets in 2014 to 5,000 franchise stores currently and launched more than two dozen mainstream FMCG products as none of the existing herbal players catered to categories such as noodles, oats and detergents.
Now in view of the Indian consumers going herbal and natural, 100-year-old Baidyanath Ayurved is launching FMCG products infused with ayurvedic herbs.
The company intends to roll out 70-75 products in categories such as natural juices and tea, toothpaste, skincare and haircare this year. It is also launching exclusive retail stores. The first store opened in New Delhi last month.
Anurag Sharma, Executive Director, Baidyanath Ayurved, said, “We realised that our ayurvedic medicine business only appeals to a small category of consumers. With growing awareness about health and wellness among consumers, we decided to enter the health benefits-related FMCG product segment as we wanted to widen our consumer base.”
The company initiated its FMCG play by repositioning some of its ayurvedic haircare and skincare products under the sub-brand, Mantra Herbal. It will now roll out its range of ready-to-drink natural juices across the country. In the oral care segment, the company recently launched Ayudant herbal toothpaste, which has herbs such as neem, pudina, triphala, babool and clove.
“While we have a well-established distribution chain for our ayurvedic medicines, we have roped in 100 new distributors for creating a separate distribution channel for our FMCG products. By the end of the year, we hope to have about 400 distributors across the country,” Sharma said. The company aims to earn about ₹100 crore initially from the FMCG business.
Also on the cards is the launch of functional food products such as herbal spices in liquid form that can be used in cooking. “We will only enter categories where we believe we can deliver a validated health benefit to consumers. It is very important for Ayurved to adopt modern validation tools,” he added.
The company is also looking to set up exclusive retail stores. “The first few stores will be company-owned and then we will look for franchise partners. These stores will showcase the entire range of Baidyanath products, which include medicines, OTC items, FMCG products and will also have a vaidya for consultation,” he said.
The company intends opening 14-18 such exclusive retail stores this year.