Being in the industry for over a decade, I always felt we need to be in authoritative positions in corporate to make things happen around us. I have seen many of us believe that we have really nice ideas but we always thought we do not have proper connections within or outside industry to make it large. The bigger question is how do we even make this connection? Why will they even talk to us? We try our best to figure out these answers, the days passes by and we get tired and exhausted and we compromise with our inner self and tell it that probably it was not meant for me, in India it does not work without authority.
Today I have decided to give my readers a cheat code, a shortcut to success and a way how they can build an enterprise worth Rs 5000 Cr without being born with a golden spoon or being a top political leader or have been a part of a very influential circle of our industry.
I am going to narrate a story and an analysis of strategies by one of the Indian sages who was born in a poor family in Jind district haryana, India. The incredible story of Baba Ramdev and how he build an empire of FMCG products worth Rs 5000 Cr. I have been following baba Ramdev since he started teaching yoga free to villagers of India and has been a key part of a TV channel called “Astha TV” and till now when he has established a 5000 crore brand called Patanjali and it is an inspiration to read from where he started and how he reached where he is today.
His early life
Baba Ramdev was born in 1965 in a village called Ali Saiyad Pur in Mahendragarh district in Haryana. He was named Ramkrishna Yadav by his parents Gulab Devi and Ram Nivas Yadav.Ramdev was born as Ramdev Yadav to Ram Yadav and Gulabo Devi at Mahendragarh Haryana.. He studied Indian scripture, Yoga and Sanskrit in various gurukuls. He became a sanyasi and adopted the name Baba Ramdev. While living in Kalwa Gurukul in Jind district, Haryana.He offered free yoga training to villagers for some time. He then moved to Haridwar in Uttarakhand and spent several years studying ancient Indian scriptures at Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya.
How it all Started
Patanjali was born in 2006. Or rather, as researchers say, was being planned from 2003 itself. Patanjali is actually managed by Acharya Balkrishna (Ramdev’s partner since 1995). The products were initially marketed and promoted during the yoga camps (which has been attended by around 20 crore, or almost a sixth of the indian population till now). Since the yoga classes were conducted for free, people were convinced that the Baba was not in it for the money (this trick always work)
Patanjali Yogpeeth was a set up in Haridwar; a hindu pilgrimage site, Baba wore saffron, propagated swadeshi psyche, and the main focus was on Yoga and Ayurvedic medicines. The Patanjali brand was set, years prior to the foundation of the actual FMCG Company. The key player here was a simple business whose brand identity and brand image were in line. Unlike other herbal brands, it had its brand ambassador as a real life yoga guru who preached yoga and Ayurveda all his life and hence their brand identity and brand image was in the same line. Celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan did promote herbal brands like Dabur, but it was hard for people to associate a film star with a herbal brand.
Since the brand was directly associated with the Baba, all his network which is –
• 577,000 Twitter Followers
• 53,248 Subscribers with 13,191,201 Video Views on YouTube
• 6936960 likes on facebook with 408359 talking about Baba
Key lessons to learn
- Stronghold and expertise on the subject
Today “Baba Ramdev” is known for taking the age-old Indian art of meditation and exercise to the average household in India.
However Baba Ramdev is no overnight success. Behind his muscle flexing, and if bizarre statements, lie years of practice and building an expertise in Yog. (He insists Yoga be pronounced correctly as “Yog”, according to the Hindi Devnagari script.)Baba Ramdev studied Indian scripture, Yoga and Sanskrit in various Gurukuls while growing up.
So, next time you see him suck his stomach making you wonder if it ever existed, know that he’s no freak, but a trained Yogi, who’s practiced the art for years.
- Has a profit making venture that’s constantly growing
While most startups in India are grappling with monetizing their ventures, despite all the financial backing from the VCs, Baba Ramdev also happens to be the founder of a 1200cr brand.
- Hires the best
Baba Ramdev understands that building a business means hiring the best, most qualified people who know their stuff. So, Ramdev’s Patanjali group of companies do not hire a MBAs or “Digital Ninjas”, but hard core experts in the field which includes Masters in Science, Biology and preference is given to Phds. No cutting corners for this one.
- Understands the market
While startups in India are only waking up to the expansive opportunity of reaching hyper-local market, with the help of regional languages, Baba Ramdev has a firm grip on his biggest market. His Facebook posts alternate between Hindi and English, reaching out to the Hindi speaking population, the largest homogenous set in the country, estimated to be about 12mn people.
- Believes in leveraging a successful personal brand and connecting with the audience
A successful entrepreneur believes in connecting with the people and leveraging your personality for the brand. Steve Jobs was synonymous with Apple as Richard Branson is with the Virgin group. Baba has over 500k twitter followers, and keeps them engaged with regular updates and replies. In India where personalities trump products, it’s important to have a brand of your own.
Baba Ramdev personally endorses the products, and is omnipresent on most of the branding. The brand Patanjali gains hugely from the trendy following Baba Ramdev has built for himself over the years.
- Low Cost Marketer
While conventional FMCG companies pull out no stops towards marketing and branding, Baba Ramdev goes at it with minimal branding expenses. When was the last time you saw an ad for a Patanjali product? And yet the Patanjali range of products with its turnover of 1200 crore, rivals that of industry giants like Emami and Marico.
While the low cost marketing may have been Patanjali’s forte back but a recent BARC report says that Patanjali was the largest advertiser in India in January, 2016
- Has made a truly 100% Indian product, for the country
In a country of 1+ bn population, 70% of which lives in rural and semi-urban areas, the reach and availability of foreign and MNC brands is limited, and the price points are beyond affordability. The Patanjali range of products, made completely in India and offered at low prices is the need of the hour. According to a study, “The national and multinational fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands playing in the fast growing $ 1 trillion Indian market (2012) have started facing intimidation from home-grown, and an absolutely ‘Swadeshi’ competitor.
- May just have the most functional ecommerce site
While it may not have a flat, minimal design, high resolution photos, icons, and a pretty UX, the Patanjali website has been in existence since 2011- a time when ecommerce in India had just started finding its feet spearheaded by the likes Flipkart, Amazon and Myntra.
The Patanjali website is well-stocked, updated, and has a few nifty features like related videos that show the product’s ads under additional details. Cool nuh?
- Has a vision, and understands opportunity to materialise it
Those who have been regular audience of Baba Ramdev’s discourses on TV would recall his vendetta against Maggi and other “foreign brands of Colas”, which he considered harmful and unhealthy.
Weeks ago, when traces of harmful substances like lead and MSG were found in Maggi, and the country was battling with the possibility of their favourite 2 minute noodles facing extinction soon, Baba Ramdev jumped in on the opportunity and announced that under Patanjali, he’d be launching a safe, no maida version of the Noodles.
However he denied that the photos floating around on social media were the said noodles, and clarified that the photo was actually of the Namkeen biscuits.
- Baba Ramdev has a sense of social good
Reports claim that Patanjali aims to reinvest all of its profits over the next 5 years into non-profit social and development causes.
- Communication is key Baba was able to successfully articulate to his customers that he is there for a social good, which has connected to the emotions of a daily consumer and they were motivated to purchase his product lines. In his own words “Hamne ye kaam vyapaar ke liye nahin, upkaar ke liye kiya hai [We haven’t done this for business but for welfare]. It’s not a business,”
He was very clear with few things to begin with , which is important to our discussion today :-
- He did what he knew best and never ran behind so called authorities\politicians\ industrialists. He taught yoga to everyone and people started approaching him. So, I feel if we do what we do best and can communicate the value well to masses or our consumers, we do not need to know a lot of authorities to begin with.
- He was very clear about his brand , which is healthy living and a connect to our ancient culture and its value systems. We can also call it an social entrepreneur, where he claims he work for people and create products to help them in their daily needs understanding their pain points.
- He has conducted all his yoga sessions for free , giving consumers a trust that he is not another entrepreneur behind there money and they can trust him
- He communicated his value proposition to his consumers very clearly
- He has always influenced people by helping them overcome their pain and has created an aura of himself which creates his brands and all the products he associates with
Though there are several factors why Baba Ramdev is a successful leader and entrepreneur today, one of the key learning today is we can influence people even without authority. He has understood that different people has different needs and always figured out a suitable currency to influence them. He never called himself a leader and tried to enforce people to buy his products, rather he has conducted himself with self discipline and has been vocal and advocative for resolving the challenges that we have in India thus gaining a lot of positive popularity among all age groups and ethnicity of our country.
Thus it is a great case study and learning for all of us that it is definitely possible to influence millions and billions of people without actually being authoritative.
Secondary Research and Information From :-
- 11. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=tqdABAAAQBAJ&pg=PT39&lpg=PT39&dq=baba+ramdev+inspiration&source=bl&ots=K-mPHeE8i-&sig=oaEXxfaJQCSi6z0vtIH7HSG1pAg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiwgNLcw8nRAhXMuY8KHY0ZB3Y4ChDoAQhRMAk#v=onepage&q=baba%20ramdev%20inspiration&f=false