Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar planning to compete with Baba Ramdev on the retail market

Art of Living guru launches malt drink and signs badminton ace PV Sindhu as its brand ambassador, raising questions of competition with Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is all set to take Baba Ramdev. In a press conference yesterday, Sri Sri announced the launch of Ojasvita — a malt drink and an addition to his product line Sri Sri Ayurveda. To show that Sri Sri products would be more visible now, company officials, representing the meditation guru, announced Rio Olympic badminton silver medallist PV Sindhu as the brand ambassador for the drink. Sindhu's coach P Gopichand, who had accompanied her, said "I have been associated with the Sri Sri family for more than 20 years."

Healthy competition
Bengaluru-based Sri Sri, whose product line is on the website started it in 2003. And given the rise and popularity of Ayurveda, parallels are already being drawn with Baba Ramdev's Patanjali products.

Tej Katpitia (right), chief marketing officer of Sri Sri Ayurveda, with brand ambassador PV Sindhu and her coach P Gopichand. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Tej Katpitia (right), chief marketing officer of Sri Sri Ayurveda, with brand ambassador PV Sindhu and her coach P Gopichand. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Chief Marketing Officer of Sri Sri's product line Tej Katpitia, however, tried to downplay the competition, when questioned on "takkar with Patanjali". "We were expecting this question. We think there is space for everybody in the category, there is no competition. All the talk about Ayurveda proves just how much people want such products. We will be happy if more enter this space."

"Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji has been working to restore the glory of Ayurveda. We are going to up advertising in print and TV; we already have a 200-plus product line of health care, personal care and food products. We also have a hospital in Bengaluru," he added. When asked if the products would be affordable for all, Katpitia avoided answering directly and instead said that there would be "no compromise on quality".

One-upmanship?
As a slide show illustrating the goodness of Ojasvita, priced at R120 for 200 g, with seven herbs as its prime ingredients rolled on, murmurs of competition and comparisons could be heard, that the consumer would most likely compare the Sri Sri line with Patanjali once the former made good on its promise to be in more shops. Will Sri Sri Ayurveda steal a march over its more visible herbal cousin? As the high priest of meditation gets ready to roll into retail, Mumbai is holding its breath Art of Living-style.

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