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Jan, 07 2017

The BILLION DOLLAR Yoga Business

Franchising in the yoga industry is increasingly becoming a trend to make a brand reach out everywhere in the country

The 5000-year-old practice of Yoga is a booming multi-billion dollar market today worldwide. India grabs a small pie in this $80 billion industry. Although, the practice finds its origins in the Vedas in India, the industry is still picking up and is worth over Rs 490 billion in India.

The age-old tradition is now a lifestyle that attracts millions of consum­ers across the world. As India begins to move away from the machine methods and looks for natural avenues of fitness, yoga is emerging as one of the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs looking for growth.

As the business becomes bigger, franchising in the yoga industry has become a trend to make the practice and brand reach every part of not just the country, but also the world.

The way to growth

Evaluating the growth potential that yoga holds, players in this segment are opening themselves to the idea of franchising aggressively. “Fran­chising keeps the cost of acquisition and the cost of investment low. It offers tremendous opportunity to become an entrepreneur, especially for women. About 80 percent of the yoga practitioners are women in India. The speed of growth if executed right is much higher,” says Yashwant Saran, Founder & M.D, 136.1 Yoga.

The 136.1 Yoga Studio was started in 2010. In 2015, Saran realized the potential for growth in this sector and called out for franchisees. Today, the brand has established in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and even overseas. With a vision to grow across India, Saran explains the support his brand extends to franchisees.

“We take care of every­thing from start to finish. We provide and train teachers, and man­age the studio as well. We provide 8-10 teachers, out of which 3-4 will be from outside, and rest from India. We decide the location. So, once that is done, we rollout the execution plan. We select the design and leave the execution part to the franchisor. We are very particular about the look and feel of the studio. We do the pre-sale and so­cial media marketing. We educate the partner about the demographic and typographic of the target customers as a part of the training. Then after the launch, we focus on the day to day operation of the studio,” he says.

A similar growth story is that of Zorba: A Renaissance Studio. The yoga studio was set up in 2013 and started franchising in 2014. There are 20 studios under the label and many more are coming up in the near fu­ture. “In every city, we are looking for people, who could run the show, predominantly in the southern cities. I’m not too strong in Delhi, so I look for a like-minded partner, who could take up the task. The reason for franchising is that more the people and ex­perience, the better you can run your company. But I’m sure it has its own pros and cons,” says Sarvesh Shashi, the CEO of Zorba: A Renaissance Studio.

Sarvesh took a loan of Rs 5 lakhs, which went on to become Rs 17.5 lakh at that time for starting his yoga studio. “People think yoga means just meditation and surya namaskar. Yoga means unity of mind and body. So I had to commercialise yoga in a way that would be exciting to them. It was important to break the typos in order to get the people to come for yoga classes. We have introduced aqua yoga, paddle yoga. So once people have good experience, they do it regularly,” he says.

Opportunities Galore

Besides conducting yoga sessions, educating yoga professionals is another lucrative area. According to an ASSOCHAM study, the demand for yoga instructors is going to grow by 30-35 per cent in the next couple of years.

Yoga schools like Chaitanya Yoga Foundation and Arhanta Yoga are making the most out of this opportu­nity by spreading their brand across India and the world. The Netherlands-based Arhanta Yoga has its franchise in India, and is producing yoga professionals to fill the gap.

The Indian government too has taken up the task of educating yoga professionals and looks to produce over 50,000 professionals over the next few years through the Ministry of AYUSH. With the International Day of Yoga becoming a worldwide event, the World Health Organization is also working to incorporate yoga into universal healthcare.“Yoga has a prominent place in the holistic approach through prevention and control of health disorders,” says Nata Menabde, ED, WHO office to the UN. “The ancient Vedic gift of India to the world needs to be studied and supported by scientific evidence and then incorporated in to the approaches to universal healthcare,” she adds.

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