Benjamin Franklin

Ashram Brands: The Strategy Behind Their Success

Ashram Brands: The Strategy Behind Their Success


India is an eclectic mix of old and new. Tradition and technology coexist in a dichotomy that makes for unique economic opportunities, and this is best illustrated by the recent surge in the popularity of ashram brands.

They ride the wave of a growing middle class, ingrained spirituality, and an ever-increasing accessibility to commodities. The number of Indians with purchasing power is growing with every passing year. According to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, at the current growth rate, Indian households will see their incomes triple over the next two decades.


This will make India the fifth-largest consumer economy in the world by 2025.

Ashram brands are well-positioned to capitalise on this growth, and have high profit margins, great brand equity, and steep growth curves.

What enables these brands to outstrip established, decades-old brands and emerge as industry leaders? Let’s take a look.

What Are Their Offerings?

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the offerings of an ashram brand is religious paraphernalia. Devotional CDs, books, and worship supplies already have an established consumer base with the patrons of each ashram.

The demand for these commodities practically creates itself, but ashram brands have moved beyond this niche. They have stepped into and are making waves in the FMCGs market. These include over-the-counter herbal and ayurvedic remedies, cosmetics, and foods.

Established brands are sitting up and taking note because of the incredible turnovers that some of these ashram brands are generating.

Keys To Their Success;

Conversion – Ashram brands are birthed by already-functioning ashrams, which have an established follower base. These people are dedicated to the ashram’s mission, which translates no brand loyalty, ensuring a dedicated customer base with a high conversion rate.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a level of brand loyalty that matches the loyalty which comes from spiritually identifying with a particular ashram. The conversion from devotee of the ashram to customer of the ashram brand is one with staying power.

Customer Familiarity – It’s easy for these brands to discern the demands and wants of their customer base. Familiarity comes easily, because there’s already an established rapport between ashram and customer.

Marketing – Ashram brands are uniquely positioned when it comes to marketing as well. These brands reach their customers through unconventional marketing channels that are typically inaccessible to most other companies.

Word-of-mouth is an incredibly powerful tool for these brands, and some, as you’ll be seeing later in this article, rely almost exclusively on it.

Brand Identity – They also benefit from having an already-established identity that fosters a sense of belonging among devotees and potential customers.

They project an air of absolute confidence in their products. This is reassuring to consumers and promotes confidence in the brand and its products.

These factors give ashram brands a definite edge over the competition, and it’s no surprise that they’ve become so wildly successful over such a short period of time, even overtaking established businesses that are decades old.

To understand the strategies that contribute to the success of ashram brands, we need to examine a specific success story.

Patanjali’s Meteoric Rise

Patanjali Ayurved Limited was established in 2006, and began its operations by manufacturing herbal supplements and medicines. Since then, it has branched out into FMCGs, selling foodstuffs and toiletries.

Baba Ramdev, famous yogi and spiritual leader, is the face of the organization.

Patanjali Logo

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It generated a turnover of INR 2500 crore in the FY 2015, and saw a net after-tax profit of INR 300 crore. This means that Patanjali has successfully outstripped both Jyothy Labs and Emami, which saw a turnover of INR 1,515 crore and INR 2,217 crore respectively in FY 2015.

All this without any A&P spend.

A Flair For Picking Out Pain Points

Baba Ramdev, as the brand’s spokesperson, comes with a certain amount of established credibility. He worked actively to create an environment that encouraged people to make a shift towards a healthier lifestyle, and by extension, Patanjali’s products.

Baba Ramdev














Image Credit: Sachinr

He told people about the drawbacks of MNCs, the plight of farmers in India, and the ill-effects of fertilizers and pesticides on the human body. By appealing to consumers’ core values and providing them with a familiar alternative, the brand has seen a flood of long-term customers.

Patriotism plays a role in this as well. The company’s mission to help India become self-sufficient by removing its reliance on international brands resonates with a large portion of the population.

Targeted Products

Regardless of how much money you pump into marketing, if your product is sub-par, it’s doomed to fail. Patanjali’s products are an example of the corollary—tailor your product to your consumers, and your marketing budget shrinks exponentially, while the product does well.

The demand for Patanjali products is clearly on the rise. Some suppliers actually reported a 30% to 40% shortage in supply in 2015.

To Patanjali’s credit, the products are priced affordably, well within the reach of the average Indian customer. The brand has targeted a large market share by pricing their products smartly, and it has paid off for them.

In-Built CSR

The company also has the equivalent of CSR initiatives, which resonate with the public, improving brand image and relatability.

The Patanjali plant in Haridwar is a zero-waste plant, and the company even has a dedicated bio-research institute that explores uses for this waste as fuel, fertilizer, and fodder.

Add to these factors Ramdev’s devoted follower base and his popularity, and you have yourself a company with incredible market potential.

While Ramdev is the face of the brand, he holds no actual stake in the company. The business is run by Acharya Balkrishna, who holds 92% of the stake. The remaining 8% is held by an NRI couple – Sarwan and Sunita Poddar.

India’s FMCGs industry growth rate is projected to be 12% in 2016, which bodes well for the brand. Patanjali is stepping up its game by now turning to traditional marketing methods to spur its growth even further.

Ashram brands are quickly becoming mainstays of the Indian economy. This trend is an interesting one because it can’t be studied comparatively. This is a relatively recent trend unique to the Indian Subcontinent.

The coming years and going to be quite the ride for ashram brands like Patanjali. Their mettle will be tested as they continue to expand and take over a larger share of the market.












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