Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda used to be among the top three TV advertisers in the country, but has dropped to tenth spot this year.
New Delhi: Have you noticed that you don’t see as many Patanjali ads as you used to? The once-ubiquitous adverts of Baba Ramdev’s Ayurveda and FMCG company have seen a drastic reduction on the TV airwaves, and the firm has dropped out of the list of top-three advertisers in the country.
According to latest data from AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research, Patanjali, which competed with FMCG behemoths Hindustan Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser (the makers of Dettol) at the top of the advertisers’ list, has dropped to 10th position in the first half of 2018. It has been replaced by ITC Ltd at the top.
Last year, the Haridwar-based Patanjali had displaced chocolate maker Cadbury near the top of the advertisers’ list, having been nowhere near the top 10 until 2015. It was seventh in 2016.
In the print advertising list too it has dropped from seventh to tenth in the last one year.
The company says the decision is a conscious one, given the shortage of its products in the market — from baby products to juices, aloe vera gel, and even biscuits. It blames its supply chain for these problems.
But analysts and retailers suspect that the declining consumer off-take — or people not buying Patanjali’s products — is hurting its ad spends.
According to BARC India, the country’s sole TV audience measurement entity, from an average of about 25,000 ad spots a week across channels a year ago, Patanjali now has on average about 16,000 spots a week, or even less.
In the week ending 25 March 2016, Patanjali had 24,050 insertions on TV, while Ramdev himself appeared on various channels 2,34,934 times in that one week — which translates to roughly one appearance every 30 seconds on one channel or another.
Contrast that to the week of 29 September to 5 October this year. Patanjali is nowhere in the top-10 advertisers on television.
Acharya Balakrishna, Patanjali’s CEO, told ThePrint that the company had consciously reduced its TV ads.
“We are unable to increase the supply of our products to match the demand, due to the weak supply chain management. It will be a sheer waste of funds if we continue our ads despite knowing that we won’t be able to match the demand,” he said.
“Some products are in short supply in the market. Stock management issues were easy to manage until we were manufacturing through one unit in Haridwar. However, with the expansion of the manufacturing base and increase in the volume of sales, we have hired professional help to sort our supply chain challenges.
“The only change in our plan is more focus on outdoor and digital media. Till last year, around 90 per cent of our spends were on television ads. However, slowly we are planning to increase spends on digital medium too in some months.”
Balkrishna also said Patanjali would soon be back on TV with a bang.
“Our advertisement budget will remain the same. Once we have sorted out the supply chain issues, we will press the accelerator and put all our rivals behind in ad race once again,” he said.
Saving money for future launches
Ad agencies say Patanjali spends over Rs 500 crore, or around 5 per cent of its turnover, to promote its brand across media. As per industry estimates, Patanjali has spent Rs 570 crore on advertising in 2017-18 and it plans to spend Rs 560 crore this fiscal as well.
According to Sai Nagesh, CEO at Tempus, a media buying agency, Patanjali is one of the very few FMCG companies which spends a disproportionate amount of ad budget on news channels.
“Investing heavily on news channels, especially Hindi news, is an important move in Patanjali’s media strategy. It’s an intelligent move as general entertainment channels are expensive and reach out to families. But news channels are much cheaper and reach out to the traders and stockists, which is part of Patanjali’s business plan,” he said.
Ad agencies also say that the Patanjali team could well be conserving ad-dollars to support newer launches later in the year. ”
Patanjali has plans to enter packaged drinking water, milk and milk products, sanitary napkins, and apparels for women, men and kids.
Industry experts said these categories will have their own challenges and varied target audiences. Patanjali may need a lot of investment in ads, they added.
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