Baba Ramdev knows how to keep the buzz alive. He also knows that the buzz is very important for businesses to grow, especially the ones in the consumer space. This time it is Swadeshi, and Patanjali has called for boycotting products developed by multinationals, including Colgate and Nestle.
“We as citizens of India have the right to use products which are Swadeshi… This is our campaign,” said Ramdev.
Established in 2007 as a small pharmacy, Patanjali has expanded into packaged food products, grocery, and hair and skin-care products. Since 2011-12, it has grown over 10 times to Rs 5,000 crore in 2015-16. That’s more revenue clocked by consumer product majors, such as Emami, Dabur and Marico.
”The success of Patanjali has raised investor concerns about the impact on established consumer names,” HSBC said in a report released in February.
And unlike Khadi Gram Udyog, which uses Mahatma Gandhi’s name to market its products, Patanjali does not need any subsidy, according to Ramdev. “We pay many crore in taxes every year,” he said.
With Swadeshi, Ramdev wants to touch hearts. “People get sentimental and that leads to consumption. Globally, most brands — be it Levers, Nestle — link themselves with some social cause. So Patanjali is doing that around Swadeshi,” said Sunita Sachdev, equity analyst at UBS Securities.
Ramdev said with Patanjali, the consumer ensures that country’s money stays inside the country and is not passed on the a multinational corporation. This is also hinted at in Patanjali’s recent radio advertisements. Ramdev’s deputy Acharya Balkrishna, also the CEO of Patanjali, said Ramdev’s concept of Swadeshi is based on four pillars – the products are better than multinationals, they are cheaper, the financial gain are not used for personal benefits, and upliftment of the country is the main aim.
“Globally, people are looking more inward. In India if you want to be inward, you look at herbal, ayurvedic and now, Swadeshi,” said Sachdev.
However, Balkrishna is not averse to buying technology from the West, since it only helps in Patanjali’s success. For example, cows in Brazil give 50-60 litres of milk— that’s five to six times more than their Indian cousins.
Patanjali imports its equipment from the West. It is also getting food manufacturing and packaging technology from Italy and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, it has decided to spend Rs 40-50 crore on its Swadeshi campaign, and has urged more Indian companies to join. “The battle will go on if dozens of Indian companies come together and join us. We will support them. They are not our competitors,” said Balkrishna.