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How Legacy Brands Are Vouching For Revival Of Ayurveda 5,000-year-old, Ayurveda can be considered as one of most prevalent of alternative medicines practiced throughout the world.

By Sugandh Bahl

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The consumer trend is moving towards Ayurvedic products and Ayurveda lifestyle at a very steady pace. Ayurveda always had its takers but in the recent times, this growing concern is solely because people want to adapt a healthier lifestyle and get access to chemical-free products. As new players crowd the market, few legacy brands like Dabur, Baidyanath and Dr Vaidya's are trying to revive their brands by repositioning themselves.

5,000-year-old, Ayurveda can be considered as one of most prevalent of alternative medicines practiced throughout the world. In India, suddenly it is on the verge of re-gaining its lost sanctity along with renewed interest for it in the west. Its revival measure is through the wellness industry, making people believe in its long lasting effects.

Dabur, a leading brand in the Ayurveda for the past 133 years, has been spreading wellness among their consumers with its wide range of products. Amit Burman, Vice Chairman, Dabur, explains that for over a century the company has been marrying traditional Ayurvedic methods with cutting edge science to create highly efficacious products. Dabur has a strong research wing which believes in "bush to brand' approach. Their in-house nursery grows several rare herbs that go into various products.

"This in-depth knowledge about nature and natural ingredients is one of our big strengths," Burman adds. Anurag Sharma, Executive Director, Baidyanath says "Ayurveda as a science at some point in time was unable to validate itself against the modern scientific techniques."

Established in 1917, Baidyanath has been the acknowledged leader of Ayurvedic know-how. Now, Sharma and his team are trying to benchmark their drugs against allopathic drugs, so that they can go back to their customers and say that if an allopathic drug possesses some amount of efficacy, so do their product as well. "People believe that Ayurveda won't harm your body but they believe that it will take a longer time in healing," he adds.

So, Sharma wants to create a market wherein they can sell Ayurvedic drugs with same efficacy of healing as fast as an allopathic drug. This approach requires utmost focus, unlike in the case of a synthetic drug developed by a pharmaceutical firm, where all clinical research protocol is adhered to strictly, chaos reigns in the Ayurvedic drug sector.

The sixth generation entrepreneur at the 167-year-old Dr Vaidya's, 25-year-old Arjun Vaidya was in the US when he witnessed the Yoga movement in the West. With the launch of AYUSH ministry by the Modi government, he believes, Indian Ayurvedic sector has received a new boost. Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru and Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, says, "Patanjali Ayurveda is to be credited for forcing the pace of this movement. Legacy brands like Baidyanath and Dabur will see positive rub-off of this movement in consumption through this pattern in the future, if not in the immediate present."

Exploring Newer Avenues

Legacy brands in almost every sector have been surviving in the market and ruling the minds of people only because of the "trust factor' which they have created. For example, Dabur's Chyawanprash or Baidyanath's Isabgol has remained favourites for generations. And, resting on the "trust' of the community, Baidyanath is planning to introduce 200 stores across the country. Sharma claims, "Along with Ayurvedic products (prescribed by the Vaid who would be present there), we will also sell functional foods, such as organic haldi (enriched of bio-active molecule)."

Also remaining loyal to their core which is Ayurveda, informs Anurag, they are planning to launch their range of juices with complete health benefit. "We are planning to introduce Karele Juice, which no other FMCG brands gives you," he says. Companies which are claiming to have a full range of natural juices in tetra-packs are not natural at all; instead they have been capped with various harmful preservatives. To do away with such products, consumers are opting for natural alternatives.

On the other hand, smart promotion of natural and herbal products for daily use like soaps, shampoos etc. has allowed these age-old Ayurveda brands to revive themselves effectively in the market. Also, the ability to make themselves available online has also served them laurels.

Similarly, Dr Vaidya's is also aiming at re-inventing a brand that makes Ayurveda products look appealing and accessible to the modern consumer. Having revived the branding of LIVitup and HERBOfit capsules, Arjun and his team at Dr Vaidya's are targeting the youth, many of whom are unaware of its existence. "Our idea is to expand this activity significantly with a 360 degree marketing campaign and take the product to other cities in near future," says Vaidya.

The company is trying to bring change mostly in its packaging, distribution and marketing strategy. Strengthening its presence in Ayurveda and natural health care products market in India, Dabur has launched Honitus Hot Sip, an Ayurvedic kadha (cough and cold remedy). It has moved several steps ahead on the road to contemporizing Ayurveda for making it relevant for the modern-day consumers.

They have also launched India's first Ayurvedic Gel toothpaste under the Dabur Red Toothpaste brand, which was earlier called "Dabur Dant Manjan" and have announced the launch of Madhurakshak Activ, an advanced product for effective management of diabetes.

According to a report, the government has been initiating several steps to mainstream and strengthen "AYUSH" department, as there has been an increase in the number of new age lifestyle diseases, which in return has caused resurgence in the interest levels towards the growth of Ayurveda. Understanding the potential of AYUSH, the government has made it to be a critical part of the National Rural Health Mission.

Lasting Success

At present, tracking a growth of Rs 10-12 lac per month, Vaidya is levelling up the scale of Dr. Vaidya's prominence in society. Instead of usual branding techniques on television and newspapers, he is actually walking the path of guerrilla branding. Having tied up with number of bars, Dr Vaidya's is taking their products to their targeted audience to make them believe about the effectiveness of their product ranges. With LIVitup, they are visiting bars, music fests, concerts, etc to spread a word about their product and the results are welcoming.

Keeping at pace with other Ayurveda brands, Baidyanath is making its entry into the FMCG brand list. Sharma proclaims, "My core is Ayurveda and any new product that we launch will always be catering to the health sector primarily, delivering complete health benefit. We want to enter the FMGC sector with those products." They are also launching two new product ranges.

One is based on lifestyle diseases and other range is of MANTRA, a purely FMCG product backed by Ayurvedic indregients which will be competing with "Forest Essentials'. India's only self proclaimed science-based Ayurveda expert, Dabur has been investing behind validating the benefits of Ayurvedic ingredients and products through a series of scientific interventions.

"We have been developing high quality products to retain our leadership in the market. Going forward too, we will continue to invest in research," says Burman. These age old brands are trying their hardest ever to become relevant to mordern Indian consumer in a market which is fast changing in the most unpredictable manner. Although these products and their ethos behind them are the best that could be imagined, these brands have to communicate to an audience which can relate these products with their modern lifestyle and its various requirements.

Thus, brand positioning and communication are undergoing re-innovation. While these brands and new players continue to crowd the market, it remains to be seen, how well they are able to change consumer habits.

(This article was first published in the June issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

Sugandh Bahl

Former Feature Writer, Entrepreneur India Magazine

Journalism has been in my roots since my school days. Beginning with a content specialist at CRY organisation to landing up being a Feature writer/correspondent at The Entrepreneur Magazine, life has experienced ups and downs fairly well. A foodie by nature and pet over at heart, currently I am thoroughly enjoying my tenure at The Entrepreneur!


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