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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to open 1,000 retail stores to compete with Patanjali

Purnita Deb
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will open about 1,000 retail stores to sell herbal products in an attempt to compete with biggest rival Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali. The retail stores will sell ayurvedic toothpastes and soaps in response to the surging demand for natural commodities across the nation.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, also known as Guruji, is the founder of Art of Living Foundation which was created in 1981-- that aims to help stress-driven people through various yoga and meditation practices. His company has already been selling products such as health drinks, soaps, fragrances and spices since 2003 through retail stores and online platform.

The company will now expand its business to food and home categories by manufacturing more than 300 products. The products will include mostly fast moving consumer goods like toothpastes, detergents, ghee and cookies, Economic Times reported.

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Guruji will also launch clinics and treatment centres imitating the retailing strategy of Patanjali, blowing a direct competition to the company which currently dominates the consumer sector in India.

"People have now accepted ayurvedic products in their daily lives, and we believe our brand offerings are different compared to those of existing players," said Tej Katpitia, chief executive of Sri Sri Ayurveda (SSA) Trust.

"Through clinics, we can carry the entire expertise of the brand in traditional Ayurveda diagnosis. We don't intend to compete with any player and instead grow the Ayurveda market," added Katpitia.

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Katpitia also said that unlike Baba Ramdev, Guruji will not be involved in marketing his products and will not be the face or brand ambassador of the company.

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Future of the Ayurveda market

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Demand in the herbal sector is rising every day. The Indian Ayurvedic products market is expected to grow almost 16 percent over the next five years driven by rising health concerns and awareness of the side effects of products that use more chemicals, according to TechSci research report.

Both the spiritual leaders – Baba Ramdev and Guruji, are extremely focused on expanding the herbal market. Though they are competitors, they have a common vision to encourage consumers to use products that are natural.

Indian consumers prefer home-grown companies like Patanjali for buying natural products. Patanjali's fast growing reach to the consumers got the foreign companies to rethink their strategies of manufacturing natural products to fight the competition from Patanjali.

According to a Neilson study report, consumers are drawn to Indian brands when it comes to naturals, under the assumption that manufacturers of these brands use common kitchen ingredients making it safe for consumption and less likely to result in side-effects or allergies.

Companies like Hindustan Unilever have revived its ayurvedic personal care products and L'Oreal launched haircare products made with natural ingredients to meet the growing demand for natural products. 

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