From: Sanjeev Nayyar
I was introduced to Baba Ramdev's consumer goods about five years ago when a close friend gifted me a Diwali hamper of Patanjali products. I looked sarcastically at my friend as if to say, 'you don't like me hence this hamper'.
Within a few months I thanked him for introducing us to a whole new range of products, be it coconut oil, shampoo, body lotion, balm or soap.
In 2010 there was no Patanjali outlet in our area. A Google search showed that I needed to travel about 5 km to reach the nearest outlet. The first time I entered the small outlet I was impressed by the sheer range of products. Varieties of soaps in Indian fragrances like mint-tulsi, mogra, turmeric-sandal and multani mitti; balm, cough tablets, hand wash, atta, tooth brush, shampoos, eye drops, jams, ketchup and of course not to forget the usual range of ayurveda-based nutritious products like chawanprash, muraba and amla candy. There was a neverending stream of customers, 90 per cent of whom were women.
The products were not only packaged smartly, the prices were also reasonable.
I loved the mint-tulsi soap that costs Rs 24, it became a favourite gifting item of mine, and also aloe vera gel and rose soaps, shampoo (lathers well and is soft on the hair) and the pain balm (tiger balm became history). A US-based friend liked the smell and feel of Keshkanti shampoo so much that he asked for 12 bottles!
However, not all products are equally good. I found the toothpaste too strong, and the toothbrush bristles too hard. Honey is another item that I do not fancy. Increasing demand for Patanjali products has resulted in smaller outlets opening at almost every nook and corner of Mumbai.
Compared to other ayurvedic products, Patanjali's have fared better against the MNCs.
Two new products have caught my fancy. One, Marie biscuits made of wheat. They are crisp, healthy and do not stick to my gums like the maida biscuits. Two, noodles. They are lighter to eat and on the pocket, tastier as compared to the legendary Maggi. I am, however, yet to try three items -- the juices, masalas and Divya Peya, a brand of a herbal tea that contains a variety of herbs and spices and is nicotine free.
It's quite amazing how Patanjali outlets dot the horizon even in small town. From Bomdila, half-way between Tezpur and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, to Kishtwar in Jammu, Patanjali products are quite popular.
So what makes Patanjali tick?
One: Its found and brand ambassador. Millions worldwide have benefitted from Baba Ramdev's yoga. Thus, his credibility is high. Usually brands are first introduced and then trust is built. In this case it is the opposite. First Baba Ramdev built trust, then the brand followed.