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Sri Sri Tattva is ready to go to the next level, says CEO Tej Katpitia

After expanding its product portfolio in India, Sri Sri Tattva – a brand that has the backing of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – is all set to scale up in the international market too. In an interview with BestMediaInfo, Katpitia talks about the company's growth strategy and media plans

Tej Katpitia

Sri Sri Tattva, the consumer goods and wellness brand promoted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, with focus on ayurveda and organic products, has presence across categories, including apparels, and has been gradually firming up its presence in the Indian market.

Tej Katpitia, CEO, Sri Sri Tattva, said the mainstay of the company will be the quality of its products backed by high-end research. The company doesn't want to get into a revenue game like its competitor Patanjali backed by yoga guru Ramdev, but wants to reach as many people as possible.

Also read: Patanjali expands portfolio, launches new products in dairy and frozen food segments

"We don’t really talk about our revenue. We measure ourselves in the number of people that we have reached out to. This year, we are going to see tremendous growth in that space," Katpitia told BestMediaInfo.

Though the company's marketing strategy is different from Patanjali, it is hopes its organic toothpaste brand will drive growth just as the category did for Patanjali.

The company is now in process of launching 1,000 exclusive stores across the country, 600 of which would be operational by March 2019. "30% of these stores would be in metros and the remaining in tier 2 and 3 cities," Katpitia said.

Sri Sri has made an aggressive media plan that would primarily focus on building the brand and make it popular across segments of society. "We'll be advertising on Hindi and regional GECs along with news channels," he said.

Excerpts:

Sri Sri is present across several categories. Why did it take you so long to start advertising?

Sri Sri Tattva has been around for a fair amount of time now and has certainly built a good number of categories. With scaling up of the business, there is always intent that the products reach a larger number of people. Even today, we believe in a balance of creating unique products and offering health services so that maximum people can experience the benefits of our offerings. This plays a major role in our brand building and also ensures that awareness about each product is created appropriately.

We do our own research but we also have deep knowledge in terms of ayurveda, having our own hospital and college. We have a lot of Panchakarma spa centres and many awareness camps are carried out. In this sense, we have been very active in the health space through ayurveda.

Today the company is ready to go to the next level in terms of distribution, availability and activity that is required to build the market. We feel that introducing advertising at this point will definitely add a lot of value. It has been a good journey and here we are today, ready with the right number of categories and offerings to reach a larger audience.

What is the kind of revenue that the company is realising and what are your targets to scale it up?

We don’t really talk about our revenues. The company is present in multiple categories, across different geographies of India. Each of the markets in east, west, north and south zones has equal and great potential. Our expansion plans are going to be through multiple channels, including e-commerce, traditional and retail, along with franchisee model. We measure ourselves in the number of people that we have reached out to. This year, we are going to see tremendous growth in that number. The growth in a few segments like toothpastes and health drinks has been multi-fold, with the right kind of awareness through different marketing activities.

Which are your top five markets in India in terms of sales?

The brand has a pan-India presence and some of the states where our growth has been good are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka to name a few.

Which are the top ranking products in your portfolio?

Ojasvita, our health care drink, and Sudanta, our toothpaste, are our most popular products. We are soon launching a new variant of Sudanta, which is a non-fluoride vegetarian toothpaste. It is a gel-based toothpaste with charcoal and salt.

You have a close competitor in Patanjali, since both of you gain consumers' trust largely through spirituality, yoga and meditation. While you have mostly been a silent player, Patanjali has been challenging almost everyone. What is your reaction to their claims of growth?

There has been a lot of awareness about ayurveda, traditional options of healing and natural products in the recent times. All efforts by all companies to increase interest in the category will ultimately benefit the industry. Definitely, companies that will see success are those that have a solid base of traditional knowledge, strong R&D and the innovation to translate that into modern day products.

You have focused on 'purity' in your communication. Why not on product specifics? At least as the first mass campaign, shouldn’t it have been more awareness oriented?

Sri Sri Tattva brand has a number of products with one common USP (unique selling point), which we strongly believe is ‘purity’ backed by science and research. The assurance that it is backed by natural ingredients and it is of high quality is what we wanted to share with the audience. Also, experientially, the consumers who have used our products, have always been complimenting us for the high purity of our products – as per the feedback gathered from the retailers, distributors and customers.

For us, ‘Shudhta Ka Naam’ is something that we all really felt inspired by and were confident in putting across as a tagline alongside the brand name ‘Sri Sri Tattva’. We will soon have specific product-based communication too. At some levels it is already happening in retail spaces. In this larger campaign, we wanted to signify that we are present across categories.

What kind of spends are earmarked for marketing?

We have plans for a few more campaigns this year and will certainly extend to different genres like regional GECs, Hindi GECs and news genres. There will be suitable spends as per our strategy for expansion in specific regions.

Sri Sri Tattva products have always been available at a lot of pharmaceutical stores and online. It is now that you are focusing on exclusive stores. Can we say this is a learning from the competition? You have announced plans to launch 1000 stores across the country.

It is definitely the right time, because we have a range of products across categories to offer and we have a level of demand. Yes, we do have a great focus on digital commerce through our website and other partners. We have seen that people want one place to explore all our products. Also, the model we offer is quite exciting for an exclusive shopkeeper. It is the right time for coming together of the range of offerings, the increased demand and interest in the brand from the consumer level and the overall growth of ayurveda, herbal and natural markets to bring up the exclusive stores.

What will be your strategy in the retail segment? How far have you reached on the 1000 stores mark? How much of your sales come from e-commerce?

We have a strategic approach towards reaching this 1000 number. We will first launch in the metros and mini metros, then we will go to the district headquarters. Typically, our strategy is to see that every target state has a certain number of stores. By the end of March 2019, we are looking at reaching at 600, and by March 2020, we will reach the number 1,000. We will soon be launching the 50th store and we will add a large number of stores this quarter. Of the total 1,000 stores, 30% will be in the tier I towns and rest in the tier II and III cities. The contribution from e-commerce to the total sales will be in single digit percentages and is growing rapidly. Of course, the larger chunk still comes from offline sales.

You had roped in PV Sindhu as your brand ambassador a few years ago but now you don't have a celebrity endorser. Do you intend to appoint some other celebrity?

We don’t have any immediate plan for this. We associated with PV Sindhu for our health drink Ojasvita.

Patanjali upcoming apparel launch gained a lot of hype when it was announced. Whereas, you launched your apparel brand Byogi without any pre-announcements. Was it always on the cards Or is it reactionary?

We were available in the segment since August 2017 though we announced it now. We did pilot those products in Bangalore in the southern market under Sri Sri Tattva brand. But we wanted to expand it nationally and create a brand in Byogi, which is why we did a formal launch now.

The Art Of Living is considered to be more sophisticated, upscale and posh, compared to a lot of your competitors. Do you think this will obstruct you to get into the preference set of the middle and lower middle class? Or would you like to maintain this imagery?

Sri Sri Tattva as a brand believes in putting across a quality offering, which is a quality booster for everyone. We have products that are differentiated, high on quality at an affordable price for the largest possible population. India is a young country and we don’t want to be restricted to a certain section of the society. The brand does encapsulate the approach of reaching larger number of people, with products that really benefit them, at prices that one can appreciate. I don’t think we would not want to capitalise on a certain section of the market. We don’t want to compromise on this.

What is the strategy for international expansion? What’s the response from the international market?

We are present in 33 countries and we have been received quite well. There are different regulatory environments for ayurveda in different markets of the world. There is a tremendous upsurge in demand for the authentic ayurvedic products outside India too. The advantage that we have is in the manufacturing process, certification and the product quality which has been appreciated by our international audience. We will be scaling up in the international markets too.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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