The golden days of Ayurveda are here

March 22, 2021 5:45 AM

FMCG companies are invigorating Ayurvedic brands like never before

The Charak Samhita is Ayurveda’s conclusive treatise and the most referred text by students, scholars, teachers, physicians and researchers.The Charak Samhita is Ayurveda’s conclusive treatise and the most referred text by students, scholars, teachers, physicians and researchers.

By Vidya Hattangadi

Globally, Ayurveda-based products saw a surge in demand in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as scientists the world over are sprinting against time to bring out the standard treatment modality. In terms of time, almost a year passed to find the vaccine to curb the increase curve of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. The situation has been acclaimed globally that strengthening the immune system will work wonders in combating the coronavirus. Allopathic companies are trying to find out an all-time well-tested mantra to stay safe and healthy. Having recognised the significance of the holistic approach of Ayurveda, the Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has supported the role of Ayurvedic remedies in the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus disease, especially for its immunity-boosting properties.

Indian Ayurveda industry has become one of the fastest-growing industries with a huge range of products. Despite being the modern medical system, Allopathy has been incapable to find an enduring solution for certain diseases such as jaundice, piles and biliousness, etc. These ailments can be effectively managed by Ayurveda. Though Ayurveda acts slowly but works effectively and cures the disease at its root.

Ashwagandha, brahmi, cumin, turmeric, licorice root, gotu kola, bitter melon, pepper, giloy, etc, are making entry into households like never before. Indians are continuing to put a united front against the battle with the novel coronavirus; people are going back the herbal way to boost their immune systems. Giloy is winning hearts of millions in the struggle against the virus. Giloy has been hailed for its medicinal properties and a host of health benefits. The scientific name of this age-old miraculous herb is tinospora cordifolia and it is also known as ‘amrita’ in Sanskrit, which literally translates to ‘the root of immortality’.

Previously, Ayurveda-based products in the Indian market were restricted to hair oils, the local dietary supplement called the chyawanprash, and over-the-counter palliatives. Now, natural Ayurvedic ingredients are increasingly being integrated into a growing number of products, ranging from shampoos, skincare creams, oils, powders, toothpaste gels and soaps to cough syrups, teas, packaged juices and nutritional supplements, among other fast-moving consumer goods.

The Charak Samhita is Ayurveda’s conclusive treatise and the most referred text by students, scholars, teachers, physicians and researchers. It has the unique distinction of being the only text available worldwide on the most restorative science. It emphasises on the promotion of health and prevention of diseases as the actual solution for controlling diseases, which is especially relevant in modern times. Further, it also seriously dwells upon the concept of healthy ageing and longevity, as described in the Swastha Chatushka and the Rasayana chapters.

A survey by market research firm Nielsen found that the natural segment accounts for 41% of the total of Rs 44,790 crore personal care market share. Many MNCs, which were the leaders in the toothpaste category, lost their shine when home-grown Ayurveda companies found flavour with consumers, forcing some companies to come out with herbal variants. Herbal brands and variants from Dabur, Colgate and Patanjali gained nearly 350 basis points in market share in a year in the Rs 7,000 crore Indian oral care segment, according to a leading daily. Among the natural segment category, toothpaste is growing at 20.1%, followed by hand and body at 17.5% and shampoo with 13.2%; sanitiser sales have shot up beyond our imagination. Top FMCG company Emami acquired Kesh King, a top selling brand of Ayurvedic hair oil in North India. On the other hand, HUL acquired Kerala-based Indulekha hair oil for Rs 330 crore. Marico acquired Nihar Shanti Amla hair oil. It had acquired private equity-controlled Paras Pharmaceuticals for Rs 3,260 crore in 2016.

Is Ayurveda safe? To cite an instance, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) pulled up a number of brands for making misleading or false claims in their ads or not adequately substantiating these claims which were found to be in violation of its code. Among these were new-age alternative medicine companies which made false claims. The $53-billion FMCG sector in India is moving towards the wider adopting Ayurvedic products. HUL’s Ayush is the only brand which is spread across categories, from toothpaste, soaps, face wash and face cream, shampoo and hand wash. Dabur is the world’s largest Ayurvedic and natural healthcare company with a portfolio of over 250 herbal and Ayurvedic products. Dabur also recommends various Ayurvedic home remedies. Besides Vicco Vajradanti toothpaste, Colgate has entered with their Ayurvedic toothpaste, and it is piggybacking on Ayurveda in other segment of products, too.

The endorsement of several high-profile spiritual leaders (gurus) has also contributed to this resurgent interest in Ayurveda-based products, catapulting newer brands like the Baba Ramdev-promoted Patanjali to the top. Here we discuss how top FMCG firms in India have had to respond to the ‘new-age’ marketing by spiritual figureheads and their promotion of Ayurveda. Patanjali products are advertised as natural and organic; these products are also branded as ‘swadeshi’ or national, owing to these being made in India. The company has leveraged the mass popularity of its founder, Baba Ramdev, as a yoga teacher and spiritual god man, to effectively be its brand ambassador.

The global Ayurveda market is predicted to grow at a healthy CAGR over the forecast period (2018-2023), states the new Market Research Future (MRFR) report. Ayurveda medicine is one of the oldest holistic healing systems. The goal of Ayurveda is promoting good health and not fighting diseases.

Ayurveda is here to stay and has golden days ahead.

The author is a management thinker and blogger

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