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Deepman Singh

Deepman Singh has been serving the Corporate Enterprises and startups from last 7 years, including Infosys and Tynor, as a Technology Consultant, Business Analyst & currently as International Sales Consultant. Further, Deepman likes to opine on Business Insights on recent Business trends, through publications in Online magazines, Corporate Newsletters and blogs.

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Thrust on Trust - A View on Faith Based Selling & Beyond

If we see any trend or brand spreading like an epidemic in today’s world, without much analysis, it should reveal the Faith-based-selling as the force behind the success.

Thrust on Trust - A View on Faith Based Selling & Beyond
Thrust on Trust - A View on Faith Based Selling & Beyond

The mystical power of faith is no longer hidden these days with its effect increasingly been felt across all business segments. People forgive many things if Trust exists, and in its absence, even the most righteous initiatives invite hard suspicion. The phenomenon is ubiquitous, be it marital relationships, Boss-subordinate relationship or  particularly Company-Customer relationship. This article focuses more on the latter i.e. How companies especially BBC - Baba Business Culture, (with no links to British channel BBC)  exploit or adopt Faith based selling to cross-sell or up-sell almost anything from merchandise to movies (Rockstar Baba Ram Rahim) to full range FMCG products (Patanjali) . Trust Based Selling is working like never before, as if bestowing those 'Trusted' with the Midas touch to conveniently venture into any business-diversification (unrelated) without worrying about BCG or Ansoff ‘s Matrix (excuse the MBA jargons).

- Patanjali, Maggi & MSG

In today’s economically volatile times, where world is searching for recession resistant bets like the FMCG industry, Investors are seen flocking to Patanjali headquarters in their quest to discover the secret sauce behind the FMCG disruptor. 

Among the many theories doing rounds, I lay my Thrust on Trust (based selling) as the real force behind Patanjali's success. Yoga King turned Tycoon, Baba Ramdev, has rightly leveraged 'swadesi sentiment' and earned Trust to not only topple Nestle's cashcow Maggi with mysteriously timed launch of Patanjali Noodles but also threatened the seasoned players like Dabur, Marico, Emami , giving a run for their money. Here again, its his image of Health evangelist, Baba Ramdev, reinforced by his onstage livedemos of kapalbhati™ and other idiosyncracies that have led people to directly associate him with healthcare. Further,  in turbulent times of increased Food safety scrutinies amidst rising health consciousness fad, its again the Trust factor that helps Patanjali ride the tide, under which Maggi momentarily got washed away from market. 

Patanjali, here also makes a case of perfect timing when the 3Cs of Marketing ,first being 'Company' (From Yoga Institute to Organic-FMCG), Competition (Maggi's distrust, Haldiram adulteration scam)  and the Context (Health consciousness fad, FSSAI audits) came together to Patanjali's favor at the same time.

Interestingly, this also explains why another contender i.e. MSG (Baba Ram Rahim's brain child)  from the same Industry (organic foods), could not get the same traction from masses. Here, the not only the evangelist Baba lacked the health image as bestowed on Baba Ramdev (through Yoga), but his grossly conflicting image of an Entertainer Rockstar Baba (of MSG movie fame) creates resistance in consumer's mind when trying to associate Baba with Health. Lastly, brand name 'MSG' incidentally is reminiscent of Mono-Sodium-Glutamate , infamous adulterant in packaged foods (caused Maggi's debacle), making a clear marketing disaster in the eyes of Ad gurus or urban consumer.

There may be mixed reviews on whether there’s really any Art that can be taught for Living, and if so,  is it worth the hefty course fee and likewise. But what is certainly worth appreciating is Art of Selling that lets people unconditionally embrace believe that anything from Guru's table, this time its being SSA (Sri Sri Ayurveda), the FMCG arm of Sri Sri Ravishankar's art of Living Foundation

Here again, the spiritual leaders ride on their single biggest asset i.e. goodwill, faith or influence, spiritual as well as socio-political, to launch a portfolio of consumer products, as their omnipresent members welcome these products as divine gifts (prasad) inside homes.

- Curious Case of Unending Movie Sequels

Ever wondered one movie's grand success, is usually followed by a string of sequels, even though each sequel is a downgraded and predictable version of the original. Here again, the sequel strategy is  the producer’s attempt to exploit audience's faith on orginal hit movie and his curiousity and hope to have a repeat experience that is certain to bring him to the hall again. Here, the producer is assured an audience, even before he inks the script of the sequel and without a penny spent on Promotions, leading to high profitability. This also explains why Bahubali was abruptly split into 2 parts at a weird turning point, in a way guaranteeing a more profitable sequel (irrespective of the storyline) to come.

-FIT for Trust? 

FIT factors i.e. Fairness, Integrity and Transparency are considered to the key weapons of building trust., As businesses aim to 'cross the chasm', from niche market to mass adoption. Whenever companies, in their quest for Instant Market Disruption or Over night fame, by pass the Faith-based-selling or the FIT factors, they had to endure harsh skepticism from public or Industry associations. The case of Freedom 251 'World Cheapest Phone' is a befitting example where Ringing Bells got embrolied in controversies, ultimatly made desparate attempts of portray Transparancy and fairness in operations and business strategy.

Below is an Infographic that highlights how sundry emerging and Leader Enterprises have been practicing FIT factors to combat their respective threat to their Brand:

Brand

Image conflict or Concern

Faith Combat - Visible Evidence

Patanjali

Authenticity of Organic and safety claims

- Ramdev's ProHealth Image
- Yoga Guru's live remedial shivirs, Kapalbhati™, other Idiosyncratic performances.

Art of Living

Hefty course fee, Suspicion on sources of wealth (real estate) , Political liaison

- Polite and well groomed orator leader

- Word of mouth references, Claims of Philanthrophy projects, spiritual development

MSG

Controversies, Religious Entertainment, Political liaison, No Health connection

- Hardliner followers, social projects, religious discourses, well knit regional supporters

Uber

Passenger Safety, Accountability during Mishaps

- In App safety features like Vehicle tracking, Driver Identity disclosure, Police verification.

- customer friendly campaigns like Christmas Gift delivery,  Puppy delivery

E-commerce

Spurious products, WYSWYG?(What you see is What you get),
Transaction security

COD, Easy Returns, Meeting Delivery commitments (Time,Quality)

LinkedIn,  CouchSurfing, AirBnB

- LinkedIn- Fake profiles

- Couchsurfing/AirBnB: Distrusted/criminal Host or Traveller

- Verified Profiles (Mobile, Financial details)

- Recommendations/Testimonials

- Connections, Publications, Reviews, Ratings.

Freedom 251

- Scam or Sustainability

- Marketing gimmick, political liasion.

- Press conferences to disclose strategy,  guarantor, other confidence building measures.

- Faith as Therapy

Recently, in a recent congregation of scientists I attended in Chandigarh, Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan relegated homeopathy as a placebo (dummy drug which psychologically heals a few ). This incited debates in the medical world on homeopathy’s effectiveness. Without being partisan in the debate, I believe the simple existence of placebos in clinical trials is a testimony to the therapeutic role of faith in healing. This faith combined with medical marketing & consultation is doing wonders in healing people of many ailments, otherwise considered untreatable.

Trust vs Branding. What first?

If Trust & Brand are Chicken & Hen respectively in What-came-first puzzle then my recipe tells me to put Trust first that will later build the Brand. This causes a viscious circle in which the Brand formed again evokes consumer’s Trust.

Conclusion

Hence, in these times when consumer is spoiled with umpteen options, the buying decision is increasingly being influenced by the T-factor (Trust). It is said that when sex does not sell, its faith that triggers the buying decisions. 

If we see any trend or brand spreading like an epidemic in today’s world, without much analysis, it should reveal the Faith-based-selling as the force behind the success.

Nevertheless, one should be cautious that the means of earning this power (Trust) remains ethical. Its the approach, Ethical or otherwise, that will decide what differentiates a Star Brand, created by Faith, from a Scam , created by Deceit, even though both the Star and Scam enjoy the same hype. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


Tags assigned to this article:
Thrust on Trust Faith Based Selling Patanjali Maggi & MSG

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