Though use of Ayurvedic products has been witnessed from centuries, the India of the late 2000s has seen a rapid change in relation to Ayurveda and natural.
Consumers in India in the 90s and early 2000s were obsessed with imported products. We were gifted Japanese electronic sharpeners and Chinese remote controlled cars – anything Indian was perceived as second tier. It could not be said that Ayurveda had lost its value instead; among modern consumers it has lost a certain amount of appeal of popularity. Ayurveda was looked at as something that grandmother and grandfathers told you to use.
At the same time, Yoga was undergoing a renaissance. The West completely rebranded this ancient Indian creation. With yoga pants, yoga gyms and yoga mats, today Yoga has become cool and aspirational to modern consumers. It became something you could relate to. Slowly, yoga had become a global phenomenon and a USD 27b industry in the US. What it was lacking though, was the Indian identity. Yoga was popular but, it was not Indian – it had become global and its Indian identity had been lost somewhere along the way.
During this period, (the 90s and 2000s) West underwent an organic revolution. Western consumers became tired of chemicals in daily consumption as they started understanding the negative effects of consuming what was artificial. Places that were famous for fast food also gave rise to mammoth organic products brands. Consumers began to grow more and more educated about what they were ingesting and going to Whole Foods wasn’t novel any longer – it became a way of life.
The India of the late 2000s though has seen a rapid change in relation to Ayurveda and natural. Urban India has become much more conscious on health and fitness. The revolution that we saw 15 years ago towards healthy living and healthy eating in the West has very much hit Indian shores. With this change there is a renewed interest on natural products as Indians also have followed suit and understood the harmful effects of chemicals and allopathic medicine.
This change in lifestyle has been coupled with a new Indian government that is very proactive in restoring and safeguarding what is traditionally ‘Indian’. In 2014, when Narendra Modi took over the reigns, there was a renewed sense of pride in the Indian identity. Today, urban Indians have changed from their counterparts. We are happy to consume quintessentially Indian products and there has been an added government emphasis on this. The government has formed the ministry of AYUSH and will continue to boost what is traditionally Indian to the populace.
Given the change in lifestyle and the macroeconomic scenario of change in government, India is experiencing somewhat of an Ayurveda renaissance. A science that was almost forgotten among the modern consumer is now highly popular. Ayurvedic companies are now in so much demand that they are giving the global FMCG giants sleepless nights. The science has an increased relevance in society, because it is seen as an alternative to chemicals and something that gives side effect free solution from nature’s bounty.
Even though Ayurvedic products have become increasingly popular, the potential for the science is still largely untapped. Urban consumers have very limited knowledge on the science as compared to Indian citizens above the ages of 60. People above 60 would most likely know that Bhringraj is an important component of Ayurvedic hair oils but someone in their 20s will most likely have no clue. Thus, what has been adopted in terms of Ayurvedic products is largely the natural foods and cosmetics. Ayurvedic medicine still has some headway to make till it can be seen as a genuine alternative to allopathy and, this will only come with consumer education. Modern consumers need to be explained about the science in a form that is appealing and accessible to them. For some reason, a large number of Ayurvedic product brands are stuck in the past and without ‘talking’ to the new consumers it will be quite difficult to make Ayurveda a way of life.
What is most interesting is that Ayurveda has useful products to help cope with modern day problems. Modern consumers suffer from lifestyle issues like poor eating, lack of sleep and stress. Urban environments and pollution have also led to conditions like cough, cold and asthma to be a constant issue for modern Indians. Ayurveda though has solutions to overcome these new age problems. Whether they are daily revitalisation, energy or immunity tonics or long term solutions for asthma, Ayurveda has the answers. Importantly, this science looks at treating ailments from the root instead of the symptom. Thus, as long as consumers are more aware of the Ayurveda’s benefits and mechanism of working – the modern day issues it can solve are endless.
In short, Ayurveda has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in India over the last 5-7 years. The science has become much more popular with changing lifestyles and an increased focus on healthy living in India. The science’s popularity has followed the lifestyle change that urban Indians have undergone. But, it must be noted that in terms of potential, Ayurveda is just scratching the surface. Knowledge on the science needs to be communicated in the right manner so that modern consumers move past consuming just Ayurvedic cosmetics and organic foods. And, here we are just talking about India. If yoga underwent a renaissance and became a global phenomenon – why can’t Ayurveda!
This article has been authored by Arjun Vaidya, CEO, Dr. Vaidya’s