The Rise of Patanjali- A Consumer Behavior Perspective

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In 2006, a revolutionary company was born, which completely disrupted the consumer goods segment in India. Patanjali Ayurved, a company with 1000+ products reaching 50 million consumers. This is the brainchild of the famous Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev. Revenue growth was phenomenal from 2012 to 2016.

The Rise

  1. Swadeshi – Ethnocentrism

“We have a simple principle: we want to replace MNCs”- Ramdev Baba

This was the USP which was highlighted in all promotional campaigns. Patanjali capitalized on the Indian roots or Swadeshi aspect of the products, which was appealing to consumers characterized by ethnocentrism. And this element gained a lot of support from Indians, as they felt patriotic towards the nation. By associating it with a social cause (patriotism) many consumers believed in this ‘Swadeshi’ idea and bought Patanjali products as a symbol of love & duty towards the country. Attitude drives behavior, so when Patanjali promoted itself as a Swadeshi brand, it somehow shaped the patriotic attitudes of Indians and they bought the products (behavior).

  1. Product Range – Variety Seeking Behavior

Patanjali launched a very wide range of products in categories like food, health care & personal care which catered to the variety-seeking aspect of consumer behavior. The company offers more than 2500 products! This gave consumers the liberty to choose and try from the plethora of options available. Moreover, Patanjali launched in different categories every year, and innovative consumers loved trying the new natural product offered in the new category.

  1. Underdog- Do everything & Disrupt the agenda

During the launch of Patanjali’s early products, people had little information/knowledge about this category (Ayurvedic products). When there is little familiarity with the product, and consumers want to learn, their natural curiosity works towards the underdog’s advantage. Patanjali tried ‘side-swapping appeals in their promotion. This induced comparison. Patanjali also developed their own unorthodox distribution channels– 1200 Patanjali Chikitsalayas, 2500 Aarogya Kendras, 7000 open stores in villages. So, consumers could only see Patanjali’s brands in those outlets. Moreover, the credibility of direct experience encouraged to trial.

Patanjali also constructed incentives to search, to inspect, and compare in many of their advertisements. These appeals were perceived by consumers as more credible. Patanjali in fact facilitated trial too by offering products as samples for several years before going public.

  1. Frame of Reference

In many bold campaigns, Baba Ramdev passed scathing remarks to boycott products like shampoos, soaps, colas, etc. manufactured by MNCs by showing their ill effects. This frame of reference was set by the company, and Patanjali products were showed as virtuous ones when compared to others. It established a strong brand identity. In one of the Ads, Patanjali latently compared Patanjali Honey with Dabur Honey, by setting the latter’s price as a frame of reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f3bWJVTqoc (Link for the Ad)

          5. Fear Appeal to raise involvement- gave solution

Patanjali used moderate fear appeal in ads like Patanjali Saundarya, depicting natural products are better to use instead of chemicals on one’s face. It raised the involvement of consumers. Moreover, Patanjali always gave the solution by offering their natural Ayurved product.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBh7VzLVh1U- Link to Patanjali Saundarya Ad.

           6. Celebrity appeal 

Brand Associations, Peripheral Cue & Classical Conditioning

Patanjali effectively used the personality of Baba Ramdev to its advantage. The Yoga Guru was indeed the face of spirituality and now the same person was the face of Patanjali. Plummer (1985) asserts that one component of brand image is the personality or character of the brand itself. Since Ramdev Baba was the personality of the brand, it enhanced the brand image. This celebrity appeal worked well for the company because consumers associated the brand towards Ayurveda. The celebrity appeal also acted as a peripheral cue, raising the involvement of consumers.

Baba Ramdev Stock Illustrations – 16 Baba Ramdev Stock ...

Moreover, from the Classical Conditioning perspective-

Baba Ramdev- Unconditioned Stimulus

Trust, Natural and Ayurvedic- Unconditioned Response

Patanjali products- Conditioned Stimulus

Trust, Natural and Ayurvedic– Conditioned Response

             7. Central Route- Strong Message Argument

As per the Elaboration Likelihood Model, Patanjali displayed persuasive communication. Their message argument – Use NATURAL Products with Indian origin was a strong one. Consumers had the ability to process this information and it worked well for the brand. Hence, the attitudes formed were strong, persistent, and resistant to competitors’ actions. All competitors were MNCs and did not offer many products under the Ayurvedic range. Therefore, by taking the central route, Patanjali was able to taste success in this competitive industry.

            8. Adding new beliefs and altering evaluations of those

The company, with its educative advertisements, added new beliefs regarding what is good for one’s health: Not those chemical-induced products offered by the MNCs, but these Patanjali products, made with natural ingredients in an Ayurvedic process. This led to the high involvement of consumers.

               9. Cognitive Learning

The company is an exemplar to Ayurvedic personal care products (if not food products). The brand has established prototypicality by pioneering the Ayurveda personal care market in India. Moreover, Patanjali has consistency in its positioning. Any new product/brand extension is positioned in the same manner- focusing on the ayurvedic component in their offering. Thus, this enhanced the memory of the consumers.

Therefore, it is clear from the above analysis that Patanjali’s rise was not about any luck factor or Baba Ramdev’s personality magic, but due to careful consumer behavior approach by the company.

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