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  • Writer's pictureAdil Malia

'Patanjali' and the Maverick Baba 'Consumer' Ramdev ji

Move over....Coca-Cola/Pepsi, HLL /Nirma, LG /Sony, Apple/Samsung . The new challenger war for consumer share in the market is multipronged. The bumptious and ubiquitous 'Patanjali' attacking the giants ITC , Colgate and Nestlé all with their herbal substitutes, at the same time. The coffee-chats are now about the new marketing genius on the horizon, the Maverick Yoga Guru - Baba Ramdev ! Don't be too shocked and surprised to see him someday addressing Harvard on strategic planning for underdog marketing of herbal products and building of a Rs.5000 Crores empire, soon !!!

The David and the Goliath positioning strategy has always initially sided the underdog. This time the underdog challenger is Baba Ramdev. The man inside all of us as a consumer tends to take positions and secretly does not want the daunting Goliath to win. This subliminal choice has more to do with the triggering of associations with our own struggles and battles of our lives against daunting odds that garners this support. This time the 'over-dogs' are the MNCS.

Whenever the underdog player temporarily captures the imagination, induces perception and successfully positions itself in the consumer mind-space as the 'David'....leads the consumer sentiments and market view to win this in-equal battle. And if the consumer subliminally wants 'David' to win, he will...albeit temporarily till such imagination holds obsessive control over the consumer mind.

Market has distilled several critical lessons from past experiences . History of the markets recall many such temporary maverick attacks against established brands. There are also other lessons from the 'battle-craft' lessons - (a la Sun Tzu's warfare ) that the MNC task forces mandated to design their 'Silver Bullets' should be mindful and draw from. What therefore should be the ingredients of such fight-back strategies against maverick competitors ? Let's explore. But first of all it is important to understand that foreknowledge is critical. It is about winning the war through information. It is necessary to have first-hand insight and a deep understanding of the enemy, ones own profile, the terrain and the build- up.

☛ 👋👋 Some Strategic Lessons learnt and Directions to bear in mind whilst designing your Silver Bullet💣 :

👉 Do not ignore 😎: It all begins small and when you drive big revenues, small losses initially seem like 'other losses'. Silently they grow and ignoring a problem when it is small will make you pay a price multiple times its cost. Delay is a peril you need to avoid big time. Victory is the main object in war. If this is long delayed, weapons are blunted, ardour damped and morale depressed. Sooner your attack plan, faster your recovery. Speed and preparation is critical. To avoid resistance, you have to move swiftly.

👉 Sentiment build-up: There is always an emotional nexus and a planned build up. Health and wellness thru Yoga is the initial connect built with the consumers. It is in the nature of initial brand investment. Slowly the converted are introduced to 'herbal products' of the Co after a systematic and planned market assault on a complacent MNC giants in the market from the health and wellness platform. You have to break this nexus.

👉 Segment Polarisation & Interest Aggregation :Thru an emotional connect and sentimental linkage, interest is aggregated to create polarisation of the target consumer segment. Our Maverick guru has created this on the 'health and wellness' platform which also is the much hyped Product Value Proposition of his own products. This false nexus has to be focussed and demystified as part of the attack plan.

👉 Recruit Right Talent to get Real Segment Insights: To determine the weakness of the enemy, size of his army, position of his artillery, one needs to recruit those who have worked with the enemy or close to his industry so as to know the consumer insights first-hand. This should lead to assimilation of information that should help you to. : - evolve your strategy - counter your enemy's strategy - protect strategy from enemy counter attack

👉 Know Your Competition 💀 : Getting your Intelligence right. This is critical. One needs to get processed, accurate and current information about the competitor in right time to enable the decision makers to take accurate decisions. His strength, weaknesses, artillery, locations, alliances and his leadership strength. Particularly under attack from a wily enemy (Sun Tzu) lead by a Maverick leader it is necessary to track the trends of his style, his favourite weapons, formations, locations, favourite leaders...each of which could tell the story of his strategy and plans. Everything matters. Focus should be to attack competition at its weak spots and not waste energy and resources attacking it's strengths. Preparing the battlefield ahead of the battle is the key to victory. What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy first. Next best is to disturb his alliances. Then his supply-lines.

👉 Know the Terrain : Says Sun Tzu that one ignorant of the plan of the neighbouring state cannot prepare alliances in good time. If ignorant of the conditions of the mountains, forests, swamps and marshes , he cannot conduct the March of the Army. This entails reading relevant signals. Market signals are similar and leaders should learn to read these signals well as they plan their attack. Remember, maverick leaders are generally masters of the terrain.

👉 Knowing yourself 👤: An honest audit and fair assessment of the depth of your own leadership strength, artillery, morale, ability to sustain, capability to cope in tense and adverse surroundings are critical to the planning process. Character based leadership that leads by example is important.

👉 Designing your Silver Bullet 🔫🔫: Weigh the situation and then timing the move is important. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing. This is the crossroad point where all data available.. combining and doing the bid-data analysis to design the 'just-right' fight- back strategy and plan. The General should know when to attack, when to lie low and when to withdraw.

👉 Execute and Monitor 👷💂: weigh the situation and then move. Planned communication and Execution of the strategy with close monitoring plan is necessary. Good strategies are great to have but finally the war has to be physically fought at the ground level. Designing an organisation to execute that strategy is important as much as it's close monitoring as the attack moves progress.

👉 Change on the Move 💢💢👢👢: He who knows the art of direct and indirect approach will be victorious. Maverick enemies using guerrilla tactics need dynamic plans which should change on the move and which does not have to be so static that the enemy can easily read and plan the attack.

Fight-back the Maverick market assault with a plan. Timing is critical. Preparations are crucial. Mustering full strength is necessary for the market dice is loaded against you and the temporary consumer sentiment may not be with you.

To rely on rustics or be abusive and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues ( Ho Yen-hsi). Wish the MNC strategic planners would not have gone to slumber and not misread terrain signals when Baba was preparing and systematically investing in his mass-yoga platform.

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