When it comes to Ayurveda, there are few brands quite as authentic or as easily recognizable as Medimix
It hails back in its serendipitous beginning from the kitchen of Dr VP Sidhan, an Ayurveda practitioner, who rendered his services as an employee of the Indian Railways. It was in 1969 when Dr Sidhans home remedy with a sharp acumen for business led to the development of the iconic green bar of soap. The soap consisted of various ayurvedic oils and other homemade products which he used to treat people with several skin ailments. Given the popularity of the bar and buoyed by the confidence that his fellow friends bestowed, he set up his manufacturing unit in a small rented building in Perambur, Chennai, with just one employee, and registered as Cholayil Private Limited.
The group today is amongst Kerala’s most famous and respected Ayurvedic families, which has been practicing Ayurveda for generations. As a result of Dr Sidhans expertise, he picked an ancient palm leaf manuscript and enriched it with modern ingredients and production techniques to create the most contemporary Ayurvedic solution for complete skin care.
BEGINNING OF AN ERA
As they say, the future is not what you dream, but what you make. Dr Sidhans sharp acumen for business has made
Medimix a household name. The Indian consumer market for once offered a product with 18 powerful Ayurvedic
herbal ingredients to ease their struggle against disorders and maintain healthy, glowing skin at an affordable price. This pristine formulation, later on, became the basis of creating various other Ayurvedic skin care products in Cholayil.
Cholayil group of companies has now diversified its businesses into FMCG personal care, Ayurvedic Pharma
products and Ayurvedic Treatment and Care services and Medimix, Cuticura and Krishna
Thulasi are the premium brands under its kitty.
The one aspect which differentiates Medimix from the rest is that it has been created to stimulate every pore in our body and nourish, protect and refresh the same. The popularity of the soap can be understood well with it becoming the world leader in Ayurvedic Soaps. The range of products under the brand Medimix has redefined and revolutionized the way people view “Ayurveda”and Ayurvedic personal care products, the brand is now available in 30 countries.
Being the leader in the Ayurvedic Soap Category and the most trusted Ayurvedic brand, in 2012, it took the next
step by extending. The early advertisement for Medimix, in the 70s, carried the tagline, ‘Doctors Prescribe,’ that
vouched for the genuineness of the product. However, things took a turn in the 80s when a significant strike crippled production, following which the unit remained shut for two years.
It was in 1983, with Dr AV Anoop (Dr VP Sidhan’s son-in-law) taking a charge that Medimix saw normalcy returning. During his initial years, he took charge of the south market and started the factory in Madhavaram
a year later. The year 2007 saw a division regarding responsibilities – with Sidhan’s son Pradeep Cholayil taking
over operations in North India. Dr Anoop was the Managing Director of AVA Group, Cholayil Private Limited, the parent company that produces and markets Medimix soap.
Back then, hand-rooted wheels were used to mix the ingredients and the soap was poured into moulds and left to mature. The employees suggested innovative ways to cut the mould into plates and bars by designing machinery that worked through handrotated wheels. Even the stamping process, the most accident-prone, was tweaked for safety purpose.
Cholayil Group has been known amongst the peers to put a lot of efforts and investments in R&D and product
development to producing an innovative range of personal products under various
As the company is embarking on a platform to market such products to a broader group of consumers and broader
geographies, it is evident it has to face intense competition from MNC behemoths.
In such a scenario, Medimix sustains itself if it can carve a unique and less emulative space in the personal care segment. With “Ayurveda” becoming more popular and relevant to personal care needs, Cholayil has the best opportunity to become a world ambassador for authentic Ayurvedic personal care products.
“AS MORE PLAYERS MAKE A FORAY INTO THE AYURVEDIC SEGMENT, WE DO NOT SEE THEM AS A DIRECT COMPETITION SINCE THE OVERALL IMPACT IS MUCH BIGGER. NOT ONLY ARE THE NEW ENTRANTS GENERATING A MASS APPEAL, BUT THERE IS SUDDEN BOOM IN THE ATTENTION OF THE CONSUMERS TOWARDS THE AYURVEDA SEGMENT WHICH IS ONLY GOING TO GROW IN THE FUTURE.”
Pradeep Cholayil, Chariman & Managing Director, Cholayil Private Limited
With Ayurvedic excellence at its disposal, their primary objective is to make Ayurvedic products and Medimix more relevant to the new age young consumer’s and making it an indispensable part of their skin care regime
and later on becoming “part of their personal lives itself”.
The core challenge faced by Medimix is that there are no new trials taking place for Medimix from the younger target audience, in today’s time the brand’s growth is currently fueled by an increase in consumption of its loyal consumer base only.
The challenge is to drive the category of Ayurveda, and intuitively identifying and communicating credible reasons for young people to derive their own functional and emotional advantages by becoming a Medimix consumer.
The best marketing tool that works wonders for Medimix was built on word of mouth. This tradition goes back in the early ‘80s, Dr Sidhan would meet his doctor friends after work, asking them to recommend the soap. Later he tried to convince the chemists to keep his products in shops. He even took it to fairs and festivals to familiarize the product with the people.
Till the 1980’s all ads for the brand were conceptualized by an in-house ad agency. They decided to work with
a new team for fresh ideas and filmed an ad titled, ‘AdhuellamMaranthidunga’ (which means forget everything
else in Tamil). The group claims that it saw a 100% increase in sales of the product after that ad film.
2019 proudly marks 50 years of Medimix. The brand was launched in 1969 and in the last 50 years has grown from a
soap brand manufactured in a garage in Chennai to a global brand with a presence in over 30 countries worldwide.
DRIVING FORCES OF BRAND MEDIMIX
• It is Ayurvedic and Natural
• It is Trustworthy
• It is Assured Protection
Like many other brands, once you become the pioneer of your industry, it’s difficult to trace the growth further. Being the leader in the Ayurvedic Soap Category, it’s evident that, for Medimix to grow further, it has to appeal
to the younger consumers and extend its range to include other personal care categories.
To facilitate this initiative, Medimix had to a spread a fresh new wave to its target audience. In July 2012, Medimix came out with new and contemporary packaging for the entire soap product range, which was accompanied by a high decibel marketing campaign. Couple of months later, Medimix introduced its Face Wash variant.
As of 2018, the following is Medimix’s portfolio:
DOMESTIC (INDIA MARKET):
• Soaps – 4 variants (18 Herb, Natural Glycerine, Sandal and Turmeric)
• Face Wash – 9 variants (6 available in the market and 3 to be launched by December 2018)
• Soaps – 5 variants
• Face Wash – 4 variants (with another 5 ready to be launched)
• Body Wash – 3 variants (with 3 more ready to be launched)
• Intimate Hygiene Wash for Women
• Gel Moisturiser
The brand has always been known for its unconventional style of brainstorming the marketing strategies, every month; the company receives ideas from all workers, across its numerous factories in south India. An inhouse
team studies these ideas, which is allocated a separate fund for experiments and trials. If the trial is successful, the company implements the idea across its units.
IN COMPETITIVE TIMES
When we talk about competition, the group has never taken a back seat. Mr Cholayil was quoted in a recent interview saying, companies like Patanjali and Sri Sri Ayurveda operate under a very different model. “They are a single mother brand covering all categories. While we may compete in a few categories, we do not see them as direct
competition. We are pleased with our focus, and we do not feel that we should jump into new markets and diversify vastly just because there are aggressive players like HUL, Patanjali etc.”
He also thinks, the entry of big players like Patanjali has helped generate mass appeal for Ayurveda and has drawn a lot of attention to the segment. The over 50-year old brand’s new age shoppers are mostly from the young generation in India, which has shifted to ayurvedic products and want a more natural product for their daily lifestyle, says Cholayil. “The consumers are far more informed and know what he/she has to buy and have an eye for detail.
They prefer reading labels and prefer quality. For such new age consumers, it is important to have a right value proposition,” he adds.
Medimix has added various products under brand Medimix and also acquired a few others. “We have already made a foray into the facewash category in the domestic market, which is gearing up for some action this year. Going forward, we may also look at other categories like hair care and body wash, both categories where we are already present overseas,” said Cholayil.
Cholayil is currently a Rs. 200 crore company right now, and is targeting a turnover of Rs. 300 core for the coming fiscal year. As far as marketing is concerned Cholayil is planning to spend close to 15% in 2018-19 and will be
present across traditional media, digital and local activations driving conversions at the outlet level, says Cholayil, signing off.
Published in the January 2019 Issue of Pitch Magazine