Evolution of Ayurveda in India

Ayurveda was kept alive through the years by the scientific knowledge being passed down from one generation to the next. Consumers well-versed with the Ayurvedic scriptures, ingredients mixes and principles of extraction prepared home remedies for their inner and external wellbeing. To tap into this potential and target a larger consumer base, traditional companies such as Dabur, Emami and Himalaya also launched packaged Ayurvedic beauty and personal care products.  

Over the course of time however, western beauty brands gained popularity in India, given their large pool of resources, aggressive marketing, attractive product claims and packaging. This was the starting point for the slowdown in demand for Ayurvedic beauty products.  

 The 21st century witnessed the revival of Ayurveda in the country with start-up and emerging brands making Ayurveda more appealing to young consumers by while combining traditional wisdom with modern science. Through differentiated strategies, unique offerings and experiential product, they were able to spike consumer interest and bring the focus back on Ayurveda.  

Evolution of Ayurveda in India  

Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine and one of the oldest wellness trends in India, with its roots and practices dating back over 5,000 years. Ayurveda revolves around two guiding principles: first – the mind and the body are inextricably connected; and second – nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind 

Traditionally, Ayurvedic herbs such as coriander, cumin and fennel were used to create various Kashayams (decoctions) for indigestion, coughs, colds and overall inner wellbeing. As consumers realised the benefits of Ayurvedic herbs beyond inner wellness, the trend of using them at home for hair and skin care regimes became a common phenomenon. To tap into this potential and target a larger consumer base, traditional companies such as Dabur, Emami and Himalaya launched packaged Ayurvedic beauty and personal care products.  

The advent of multinational corporations and their portfolios of brands, from Lakmé in 1952 and Fair & Lovely in 1975 to L’Oréal in 1994, was the starting point for the weakening demand for Ayurveda, as consumers transitioned towards non-Ayurvedic products.  

However, Ayurveda re-emerged during the early 2000’s, driven by the launch of home-grown Ayurvedic companies such as Forest Essentials and Kama Ayurveda. These companies used premium ingredients based on Ayurvedic scriptures along with visually appealing packaging in an industry dominated by mass Ayurvedic offerings lacking high-quality products. They wanted to change consumers’ perception of Ayurveda, from a traditional form of medicine with mundane packaging, to associating it with luxury and wellness.  

The Era of Ayurveda 2.0: Complete focus on holistic wellbeing  

Consumers in India are paying more attention to their health as hectic lifestyles and growing external stress have adversely impacted their overall wellbeing. Millions of deaths occur in the country due diabetes, strokes, heart and lung disease. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that the probability of dying between 15-60 years (per 1000 population) was 214 and 138 for Indian men and women respectively in 2016. Further, Euromonitor’s Health & Nutrition Survey (2019) indicates that over 55% of Indian consumers were extremely or moderately concerned regarding heart issues and diseases, obesity and diabetes. With companies putting consumers in the forefront of their business   

Home-grown brands and international companies are putting consumers in the forefront of their business to ensure they effectively meet their changing needs and lifestyles. As a result, emerging Ayurvedic companies such as Kama Ayurveda and Just Herbs not only offer beauty and personal care products but are also creating awareness on developing holistic lifestyles through meditation, yoga, healthy diets and sleep – creating a new wave of Ayurveda (2.0).   

Does Ayurveda 2.0 have the potential to become mainstream? 

Ayurveda 2.0 as a concept has gained popularity in recent years, but awareness was mainly propagated by start-up/emerging brands that focussed on niche consumer segments. However, it has the potential to become mainstream in India due to the following reasons:  

  • Growing emphasis on the importance on healthier lifestyles and holistic wellbeing: According to Euromonitor’s Health and Nutrition Survey (2019), feeling ‘good’, eating a balanced diet and mental wellbeing as key factors Indian consumers believe as indicating good health. 
  • Higher discretionary spending and rising aspirations drive the demand for premium offerings: Nearly 41% of Indian consumers prefer premium formulations when buying skin and hair care products, compared with 21% of consumers who prefer lower-priced products, according to Euromonitor’s Beauty Survey (2019). 
  • Heightened consumer Interest towards botanicals: According to Euromonitor’s Beauty Survey (2019), Over 50% of Indian consumers indicated a heighted preference towards skin and hair care products with natural/botanical ingredients, compared to around 20% of consumers that demanded lower-priced products.     

 

Traditional and Emerging companies to introspect and expand to win consumers 

Traditionally, most companies including the home-grown companies – Dabur and Emami followed a top down approach in terms of the ingredients mix and the end product. They decided the ingredients to be incorporated into products and through persuasive advertising, consumers became complacent without understanding the real benefits. In recent years, rising awareness on the latest beauty trends through social media platforms, beauty bloggers and makeup artists has shifted the power into the hand of consumers 

Traditional brands such as Dabur, Himalaya and Emami have popularised Ayurveda in India but still follow a top-down approach when launching new products. They need to reinvent themselves and revamp their strategies to meet the changing preferences and needs of Indian consumers. Their focus should be engaging directly with consumers, considering their feedback and opinions and feeding them into the product formulation and development.  

Start-up/emerging Ayurvedic brands such as Forest Essentials, Kama Ayurveda, Just Herbs and Biotique, among others, have been gaining increasing popularity in recent years. Many of them focus on and cater to niche consumer segments. Going forward, to expand their target consumer base, it will be crucial for these companies to expand their distribution network and have a presence across different customer touchpoints to make the concept of Ayurveda 2.0 mainstream. 

To read the full briefing please click here: https://www.euromonitor.com/evolution-of-ayurveda-in-india-and-beyond/report  

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