Sri Sri Ravishankar takes up the art of selling, follows in Baba Ramdev’s footsteps

Published: October 3, 2017 5:35 AM

Whether it's because a rival brand has taken a hit or merely because their ambitions are taking wing, both Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Sri Sri Tattva (SST) and Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali are upping the ante.

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Moinak Mitra

Whether it’s because a rival brand has taken a hit or merely because their ambitions are taking wing, both Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Sri Sri Tattva (SST) and Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali are upping the ante. SST has carved out an alliance with Franchise India to open 1,000-odd stores over the next two years wherein the Art of Living guru’s chain will exclusively sell SST brands. Moreover, the SST chain, which now operates in 33 countries, will find its way into another 30, including Brazil and Argentina. While retail had acquired a spiritual halo way back in 2006 with Ramdev-hosted Patanjali Ayurved’s foray from soaps to skincare, both prominent brands promoted by spiritual leaders — Patanjali and the Sri Sri Ravishankar-fronted SST — are now trying to corner a bigger share of the market with some space created by the reduced presence of a rival player.

“The positioning of Patanjali and SST are divergent as the former is mass with millions of stores and the latter is more premium catering largely to the upper class segment. The two brands are well-entrenched in their own segments,” Pinakiranjan Mishra, partner & national leader, retail and consumer products, EY, observed. “Like Patanjali, SST is pursuing a franchise model, which doesn’t need much funding since most of the investment comes in from third parties,” Mishra added.

The `10,561-crore Patanjali Ayurved is busy hiring employees from top FMCG companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Colgate, Dabur and Nestle, to name a few. Meanwhile, SST, which already has a presence in 33 countries, now plans to launch its range of home and personal care products and expand its reach to 30 more geographies. Patanjali has been disrupting the FMCG space for some time now.

Besides, the yoga guru’s brand is foraying into quick service restaurants, the Rs 40,000-crore private security market and ‘Swadeshi’ line of apparel, jeans included. So much so that on September 27, Ramdev declared that by 2022, Patanjali will be a Rs 2-lakh-crore company straddling new verticals and opening new integrated food parks and manufacturing units. SST, on the other hand, maintains a smaller kitty of brands in its portfolio and was not even half as aggressive as Patanjali, until recently.

“We have posted 100% growth year-on-year over the past two years as the brand continues to establish a network of stockists and distributors to build availability across states, districts, cities and smaller towns,” SST CEO Tej Katpitia said in an exclusive interaction with FE. Katpitia, however, declined to share any financial details, including the source of funds for the expansion plans. Already, SST products are available across general retail markets, modern retail formats as well as over e-commerce platforms, including its own portal.

As part of its expansion plans, Katpitia claims SST franchisees would carry a range of 300-plus brands across personal care, food, healthcare (including prescription and OTC Ayurveda), homecare and incense and fragrance categories. “Larger formats would also have SST doctors for Ayurveda and lifestyle consultation,” he added. With the competition somewhat less keen with the brand of a competitor’s having seen substantial erosion, the white-robed Sri Sri Ravishankar’s SST has decided to launch 20-25 products by this month. The saffron-clad Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali is even entering the packaged drinking water space with its Divya Jal brand soon.

At a 25,000 headcount, Patanjali is already a solid recruiter countrywide. “Considering our aggressive growth plans, we need to hire at least 10,000 more employees by next year,” Acharya Balkrishna, managing director of Patanjali Ayurved, said at a press conference recently. Now with the reach that SST is targeting, and having set up two factories in Bengaluru for catering to personal care products, its CEO Katpitia is ecstatic, though cautious not to reveal employment figures.

“Sri Sri Tattva, with its current plans, is sure to provide opportunity to thousands of individuals across sourcing, manufacturing, operations, marketing and sales throughout the country,” he said.

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