While many say that Ayurveda is important, few believe in it and still further fewer live by it. The Pendharkars of Nagpur have lived and breathed Ayurveda for last three generations. Thanks to their belief in Ayurveda, Vicco is a global brand today and have clinched success on an international platform. Sanjeev Pendharkar, the chairman of Vicco shares the key to success of Viccowith KYT and talks about the competition they face. Excerpts…
You have kept your focus on Ayurveda while your competitors apparently gave quick, result-oriented chemicals. How did you fight this competition?
All our products are Ayurveda based. You will find mention of medicinal plants, its uses, values on our products.In fact, one can make out of them in the science of Ayurveda. We are using this very knowledgein formulating and propagating our products. Use of chemicals will give you quick results but at the same time, it will generate harmful side effects. All this is can be avoided by using Ayurvedic science. We have educated and convinced the consumers about the advantages that can be derived from the use of such products. Quality of our products is taking care of competition.
What made you think that products based on Ayurveda would click?
Right from my grandfather we have been strong believers of Ayurveda – a science that originated in India. Ayurveda means Ayur + Veda which means science of life.
The reasons for our strong belief was due to the fact that consumers of FMCG products were fed up with side effects of chemicals. The World Health Organisation had banned toothpaste containing fluoride since the children who used fluoride containing toothpaste used to swallow the toothpaste while brushing their teeth. This has resulted in skeleton fluorosis and thereby bones becoming brittle.
Our Ayurvedic products are without any side effects and that is the reason why Vicco Herbal Toothpaste is available in the Natural Health food shops of advanced countries like USA, Canada and most of the European countries. This global approval is the testimony of our belief.
What was the initial reaction from the market?
Four decades ago people used to give a nasty look to Ayurveda as this five thousand year old science is not well documented. Some of the consumers were reluctant to use Vicco Turmeric Cream because they thought that turmeric would give yellow stains to their skin. However, they were ignorant that turmeric when incorporated in vanishing cream base, didn’t give any stains and the aforesaid Ayurvedic medicine did miracles on the skin. Turmeric is very effective to treat many diseases and disorders of the skin. We had to put in a lot of efforts to remove these misconceptions.
What steps have you taken to withstand the competition?
Since the very beginning, we have been quality conscious rather than price conscious. We tell our most valued customers that we cannot sell almonds at the price of peanuts. Our products will beautify and rejuvenate your skin from within, thus enhancing beauty and complexion. Vicco Herbal Paste is very effective to treat various diseases and disorders of gums and teeth.Vicco Laboratories is identified as a cult brand thanks to the superior level of customer loyalty is achieved. We have consumer loyalty that sustained over time even during various fads. Our products have become a part of their lifestyle.
Your presence is seen in five continents. How did you become global?
Presently, we are exporting our products to 40 countries in the world including USA, UK, Japan, Germany, South Africa, most of the Asian countries and the countries in the gulf region thus contributing in almost five continents. After establishing our sales sturdily in the domestic markets, my father late Gajananrao Pendharkar and his brother Yeshwantrao Pendharkar decided to visit Singapore and Malaysia to expand business globally. They studied the market, what consumers like and prefer. Their first visit was a great success. Gradually, other countries were also included in their visits. Initially, people in some of these countries did have misgivings about Ayurveda. After using our products, the prejudices fell off and Vicco Brand was unanimously accepted.
What were the milestones of your success?
Milestones is a relative concept and can be measured in an array of ways – economic terms, overall acceptability, brand name, production capacity and an ability to face adverse conditions and challenges in the international markets. From have just a shade as a production unit, we have graduated to three huge production units at Dombivali, Goa and Nagpur that are in position to absorb any percentage increase in our production level. It was a first big milestone.The acceptance of Vicco Brand at local, national and international level is also our milestone. We have become exporters in a big way. We have survived and sustained the impact of economic depression and recently, effects of demonetisation. I would call all these as our milestones of success.
You have penetrated the skin and dental product market in more than 25 countries. How do you manage to maintain all the quality norms as they differ from country to country?
It is true quality norms differ from country to country. There is difference in even labelling the products; they have fixed norms. We studied this. Once we met all their standards in quality, things became easy. Our mainstay is quality of our products. So we never had to face a problem.
Which era was more difficult to sell the Ayurveda – the time Vicco started or now?
I would consider it is difficult to sell Ayurveda is today’s time as many national and international companies are claiming that their products are Ayurveda-oriented. Competition is very severe. When we initiated our business, ‘Ayurvedic danta manjan’ was an innovation and it was generously accepted. It was easy during that time. Now, because of competition, it has become difficult.
How did you sustain the competition post LPG (Liberalisation, Privatization and Globalisation)?
It was one of the milestones of our success as we boldly faced competition post LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation). Strength that we built up inherently over a period of years and the economic stability helped us. We have faith in ourselves and quality of our products.
Vicco ads are seen extensively in theatres. Any special reason for choosing this medium?
Common man as well as the elites visit cinema houses. It is a form of entertainment that is popular amongst most of them. Inspite of the fact that computer, internet, YouTube, smart phones are easily available and accessible, people go to cinema house. We thought of taking advantage of this habit in order to popularize our products through ads.
You have won a lot of prestigious awards. Whom do you owe your success to?
It is a team work. We have a joint family. Ours is a third generation. We have distributed our work. One looks after production, the other after finance and someone like me takes care of media and image building, so all of us from the family, our workers, officers, friends and relatives have contributed to our success.
What new would we get to see from Vicco in near future?
Perhaps, a new product. Of course,on the same line of products. We have recently introduced Vicco Turmeric Moisturizing Cream, Vicco Turmeric Face Wash and Vicco Turmeric foam base (in shaving cream base) in different packing. We may keep adding more.