Currently Yoga is a $ 5.7 Billion industry in US. Yoga came to US in mid 19th Century, and was made popular by Swami Vivekanand during his World Parliament of Religions. The Yoga got much needed popularity from Margaret Woodrow Wilson. Initially Yoga was popular because of its primary elements, and then moved towards Spiritual aspects. Many popular books and journals have been written on Yoga that gained lots of popularity. Yoga also received push from many celebrities like The Beatles etc, who showed their keen interest. Yoga was commercialized by like of Bikram Choudhury and Tara Stiles. Today people like Bikram churn out around $ 5 Million through his training centres where as Tara Stiles is working with brands like Nissan and launching Ipad Apps for yoga.
Branding Yoga and Value Creation
* As per tradition, the Yoga has been considered as an activity for quieting the mind, transcending the physical self and attaining communion with the divine. It was considered as an art to be passed from one generation to another generation from teacher to its disciple. Hence Yoga has never been seen as a brand or from commercial aspect of it. * When Yoga came to US, it was a new concept. There were hardly any players in the market to enchase this tradition. Bikram was one of the pioneers who not only made traditional Yoga more contemporary E.g. Creating “Torture Chambers” by conducting Yoga at 105 deg Fahrenheit. Looking at the popularity various books were published E.g. “Bikrams Beginning Yoga Class”.
Books played a very important role in creating brand awareness of Yoga leading to opening of Yoga schools like “Bikram’s Yoga School of India”. Bikram made the brand” Bikram Yoga” such a strong that he was charging $7000 in 2011 from $20 in 1971. This helped Bikram to create $ 5 Million brand “Bikram Yoga” * On other hand Stiles created brand Yoga for mass market. Stiler used media like Youtube and created Ipad Apps to appeal it to Masses. Brand Yoga gained popularity amongst celebrities through the extensive use of Blogging by Stiler. Stiler’s style of branding aimed at “making Yoga Cool”. This helped her to connect to the younger audience.
Bikram’s Style of Branding:
1. Bikram wanted to identify Yoga as brand “Bikram Yoga”. He started with customizing the yoga to make it niche and more contemporary when he introduced “Torture Chamber”. He also introduced concepts such as Hot Yoga with Music. 2. To create brand identify he constantly focused on creating Patents and trademarks. This helped him to protect himself and to legal take care of people trying to create their mark .E.g. He sued number of people such as Costa Mesa. He not only won the law suit but got handsome money in court settlements. 3. He made constant endeavour to expand “Bikram Yoga” by opening more than 770 studios in 220 countries and school to create certified “Bikram Yoga” trainer. Eventually he succeeded in creating brand worth value of $ 5 Million.
Tara Stiles’s Style of Branding:
1. Stiler had a more subtle way of branding. She was put off by people who used yoga as a “Soap Box” to discuss themselves, or who did “guru Things” such as accept offerings from students. Hence she practiced Yoga in her apartment and built her capabilities. 2. She was quite specific about her concept of Yoga, hence she dint wanted to identify her with people who had different philosophy hence she withdrew from people like Ford. She made extensive use of social media to connect herself with the masses and create her brand. She published her Yoga video on Face book and marketed her Yoga Classes that she took in her apartment. She blogged about her Yoga Concepts, to gain popularity. 3. When she opened her Studio, she made sure to use non Sanskrit words to keep it simple and easy to understand. Her approach to keep complex of Yoga started garnering her a healthy fan following. She branded Yoga as a Cool concept. 4. She connected herself with established names like Nissan Motors to market her concepts. She also connected to masses through launch of Ipad Apps, publication of books on Amazon, launched her fitness videos with “Team Fonda” 5. Even though she was a celebrity, but she never thought of patenting it, as she strongly believe in the quality of Yoga that’s been taught in Studios rather than the brand name of the studios.
Strengths and Weakness of Both the model:
Bikram: His concept of branding is orientated towards creating and strengthening brand “Bikram Yoga”. Strength: He created a Reputational Value, which was strong enough to ensure that competition doesn’t grow.
* Brand is not targeted towards masses. Its focused only on establishing studious to expand its popularity. * High risk of business impact through environmental factors since he riles heavily on his studios
Stiler: Her concept of branding involved connecting to masses. She ensured to create quality that speaks about her.
* She was successful in creating Reputational, Experiential and Relationship Value. * Highly immune to environmental factors since she has used different Medias to create her brand i.e. studios, blogs, face book etc * Her style of Yoga gained wide publicity. She used online media like Facebook and Blogs to create a worldwide fan base. * She used Ecommerce (i.e. Amazon.com) to sell her books. * She was associated with well known names like Nissan Motors and Team Fonda.
Her brand is not as profitable as that of Bikram.
* Stilers branding style is more sustainable compared to Bikram. The main reason is she is creating a brand identity that connects to consumer. That’s quite apparent looking at the reviews that she gets on her blog. * She has a great opportunity to expand her market outside the current market because of her strong online presence. * She is very successful in creating a strong Brand Culture. * Bikrams concept is immune to competition because of getting things patented, he makes sures he always has an upper edge over his competitors.
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