On December 11th in Mumbai, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev of Patanjali Ayurved, winner of IMPACT Person of the Year 2017, engaged in an interesting conversation with Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group at the award function.
Here are the excerpts from their conversation:
Annurag Batra: You are a brand and so is Patanjali. You are so famous in the media, using advertising in the right way and impacting everything. Apart from that, you have also established a business with Acharya Balakrishnan. You’ve done it all. What’s left to do now?
Baba Ramdev: People look at achievement, power, prosperity, success, respect and all materialistic things. All these things are just by-products. I follow great and inspiring men. As Yogeshwar Shri Krishna God says, there is nothing in this world that is so important to achieve. I’m blessed with unlimited knowledge, emotions and strength so I’m doing it. Has the sun ever asked that in return for the sunlight I give to the world, what will I get in return? So, I’ve learned that all existence is working for me so my existence is for all. This is my life. This is my truth.
Annurag Batra: Life is all about balance. On one hand, you preach co-existence of every religion but you are dominating the FMCG space. Isn’t co-existence applicable here?
Baba Ramdev: I believe in oneness, co-existence and harmony. But co-existence doesn’t mean that don’t let any Indian brands work out. Colgate first started warning Indians against using coal and salt on teeth and questioning the use of Babool. Then suddenly one day, an ad from the brand questions ‘Kya aapke toothpaste main namak hai?’ They first criticised our age-old methods of protecting teeth and replaced it with chemicals. So that’s why, I want to tell people today that if your teeth are not in right condition, it’s because of your toothpaste.
Four to five years back, when I was in Rajasthan, I met an old man who was around 90-years-old but his teeth were still in good shape. When I asked him about his toothpaste, he revealed that he never used one. I’m not saying that don’t look after your teeth’s hygiene but if you gargle properly, your teeth remain good. So, in this country, no toothpaste brand has ever been able to stand out and reach heights of success. Dabur tried its best but it was only successful to an extent. After we came up, we strengthened our brand and then toothpaste only meant Dant Kanti.
People talk about technology but what technology does go in creating a soap, shampoo or toothpaste? They have just been fooling you. If any brand from the fairness cream space comes and argues with me and proves that the cream has lightened a dark complexion, I will name Patanjali after him.
We made a conversation about using aloe vera to battle acne. We spent 1 per cent and received Rs. 1,000 crore from the brand we established. We have changed the GRP and TRP philosophy which people talk about. All we wanted to do was to use and sell Indian products and benefit the Indians apart from instilling a confidence amongst fellow citizens that we can also establish a brand. It was my goal, I’m doing it and will keep working towards it. If brands like Colgate and Unilever can spread all over the world then why can’t an Indian brand like us? If they do it, its professionalism but if we do it then co-existence is at risk.
Annurag Batra: You have been working for the last 30 years.As the nation is changing, what are the pearls of wisdom you would like to share with brands and industry people?
Baba Ramdev: I would like to tell brands to innovate because if you can’t differentiate, you can’t emerge. ITC had double the financial power than us but still couldn’t crack it and is running in loss because they didn’t differentiate. We are four times ahead of ITC in the FMCG space. So, I say, if you do something new, you’ll be able to gain value out of it. Like when we started our flour product, we gave an extra fibre atta. By the end of 2017, we are reaching 40,000 tons per day. For 2018, we aim to reach to 1 lakh ton per day which we are likely to.
Adani and Ruchi Soya were big brands in oil space. Except for us, no other company had the courage to sell oil on MRP. It gave us a value addition. Everyone was preaching to eat refined to avoid trans-fat. Now all scientists are stating that eat natural oil/ghee. Today, we are the number 1 Kachi Ghani Sarso Tel and with us emerging, we changed the industry.
Everyone was selling biscuits, we started selling biscuits without white flour(maida). On every product, we gave a value addition. We also beat Bournvita by starting Power Vita. We will soon disrupt Horlicks too.
I say that work on value addition. If Modiji would not have walked a different path, would he ever become the Prime Minister? So, you constantly have to do something new. When I started teaching yoga to more than 50,000 people, the yogis were the one to criticize. People started saying that this baba is disrupting everyone. I believe that to create a brand, first differentiate. Second, do something continuously because only then you’ll be able to achieve something. You will take a while to build trust. If you use shortcuts and reach, there will still be problems.
Also getting trustworthy people to work with you takes years. Because, these days trust is broken easily. Select the right people and 75 per cent of your work is done. I work on daily closing and personally look at the mapping. People who do weekly and monthly closing can never succeed. So, work on daily closing, retain performers and let go of those who don’t meet the targets. Apart from this, to create a brand, you must never compromise whether its quality checks, costs or raw materials.
Annurag Batra: What can Baba Ramdev do to improve air quality?
Baba Ramdev: Well, at Patanjali we have decided not to take any energy or electricity from outside and have vowed to use 100% solar or renewable energy for our operations and sell the surplus electricity back to the government. There has been the most destruction in the last 200 years on this planet, and all of it is due to man-made factors. It is our responsibility as humans that whatever we do should be environmentally friendly. At Patanjali, we use waste products to create dish-washing bars. And in a few years we are going to beat everyone in dish wash bars as well. For the environment, we plant lakhs of trees every year.
Annurag Batra: Why does someone like Baba Ramdev need media, because you are brand by yourself, you have earned trust in every household, so why do you need media?
Baba Ramdev: I have more than 10 million organic followers on social media. We have our presence on religious channels, that’s around 80% coverage in spiritual media, the rest of the spiritual media covers only 20%. I have not attempted to create a news channel, or create a newspaper, so we have not created video or electronic media on purpose, and we believe in coexistence. And we have saved a lot of media houses from going bankrupt.