The Brand- ISKCON: Hare Krishna Hare Rama!!


DISCLAIMER
It’s hard to satisfy everyone. So if someone can get offended, please don’t continue and close the browser window, and the one who want to read on this go on. Happy reading :-)
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I am crazy about brands, how they are built, managed and how the propaganda is set for generations to come. While every brand has different USP on which it prospers, it uses two of the most important parameter to count on its success- Consumer behavior and Market research. A product or service can be hyper localized or spread across different time zones, but require consumers like us to start on a positive note, break-even, or even go with IPO.
There is one brand which has always mesmerised me. It is not the P&G or Hindustan Unilever or Micromax (having one of the best Marketing team in India). I am talking about ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness), an organised brand, having religion as its platform and deep rooted Krishna devotee as its consumers. It might be evil to compare it with organised crime, but it’s hard to dilute the fact that the modus operandi looks similar. They protect who follow them and thrive on donations (Big one).
While was discussing with an office friend, who is deeply involved with ISKCON, told me that ISKCON has free stay packages and excellent food service and exclusive offers around the globe, but it requires a club membership and this reminded me of my staling Mahindra Club membership.
Apple works on the principle “why-how-what” principle (I will talk about it in some other article) to satisfy its consumer base. What does this Brand do?
ISKCON is the biggest merchandisers of Krishna. Even if it takes a lot of their time and money to build and market such merchandises, who will complain as its a shortcut to heaven in the name of Krishna. The only thing which impressed me is the retail module in the temples. The staff members there are always happy to help you and give you behind the scene knowledge about Bhagwat Gita and the meaning behind “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna”.
Like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon they also celebrate the “Big Sale day. Janamashtmi is the day when they pitch sales on Bhagwat Gita, cool one liner Tees on Krishna, Posters, Perfumes, Scented  sticks, stationary, key chains, small sized down swing for Krishna, food ( Which includes- Indian Cuisine, Italian and around the world street food and desserts). Plus the only brand which has approximately equal followers of Indians as well as foreigners.
I remember my land lord, a person who on top is all about Hare Rama, Hare Krishna and doesn’t stop his preaching about Krishna, even if you want him to stop. But inside he has only one goal to sell “ISKCON” brand to everyone. I mean if it’s a part of Hindutva, then why pitching is required? People will follow something good, irrespective of its marketing and the way it looks from far.   
There have been multiple initiatives started with ISKCON which are marvellous and one of them is mid day meal they provide to students in government schools. The food quality and standards are way better than what government provided in the same school earlier.  The temples are really well built and the energy which circulates within the four walls is positive and intoxicating. But still it remains a Brand, who’s “Prasad” is a paid treat, whose devotion is a paid treat and who facilities are paid treat. It’s a brand no less than H&M of clothesline, I phone of mobile world, Mercedes of car world and a Reliance of Industry world. A business thriving across the world, with roots stretching across the world.
Visit the Bangalore ISKCON and you will be greeted with the South Asia’s largest ISKCON temple stretching for acres. You can guess the amount of money this brand has acquired in past and how they are selling everything under the Krishna hood on the boat they call Krishna Movement.
Look out for this space (www.simplymrigank.blogspot.in) for more articles coming up in the field of marketing, experiences and other topics. Till then remember one thing- “A product rusts till it is rubbed with Marketing”.

Comments

  1. you mentioned of market research but the article seemed like a narration of what was heard rather than a deep understanding and research on ur part(life membership gives u only 60days of stay at various locations per year) of the philosophy of the organisation, u failed to mention food for life, u even didnt strike on the fact about the funding of akshay patra megakitchen which was established by the help of infosys (11 crore fund) and whose 70% funding is done by state government, visit mayapur it has the worlds greatest vedic planetorium of iskcon(not bangalore) around 500 crores (300 given by FORD) and yes u r right , it does everything under the hood of krishna just like people deglorify religion under the hood of their prejudices.

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    1. You are little of the edge brother, being a follower and hence biased. What I saw and what I read, I wrote. But thanks for other information and showing corporate interest in doing "CSR"activity. Secondly, talking about "Vedas, India itself is the largest repository of the it. I never said it is doing something wrong, I showed other side of the coin. Plus, there is nothing like bad publicity ;)
      Thanks for reading :)

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  2. Proud of u chhote.. really impressed with the deeper nuances that u touched upon.. i fail to understand the way followers of ISKCON just can keep going about it and the ISKCON way of hinduism.. growing up, my best frd was an ardent follower and i was a normal boy trying to understand religion.. as it happd he has become now after 15 yrs one of the most staunch believer and follower of ISKCON on one hand and me on other hand doesnt even step into an ISKCON temple for all the marketing they do and the way they try and force their religion down ur throat.. previously i cudnt explain ppl y i didnt get into ISKCON, I guess u have just touched my chord smwhr.. god bless, keep it up

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    1. Thanks for liking the post. I was little apprehensive about writing something like this, knowing how people can react on religious issue, also how they can easily take up an organisation as a religion. Vedas, Krishna all are creation of Hindu mythology and they are selling us our own thing through this BRAND. Though I am not against ISKCON, just monetizing everything and talking just about this brand hurts many people sentiments. As money can't instil religion in someone.
      Thanks again for liking this :)

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  3. Sir, I don't know whether u have ever visited ISKCON temple or not. If u haven't, I strongly recommend you attend the morning program. Everyday after the morning program, the head Devotee announces the monetary collection made by various other devotees and the temple. Now how often do u see such transparency ?? Forget about temples, even NGO's don't give account of their collection on a daily BASIS !!! Moreover, have u ever wondered what happens with all that money ? Being associated with ISKCON and involved in organising seminars sponsored by it in our college, I know that after each session, attending students get 3-4 different variety of dishes as prasadam. So u see, the money which they collect if often directed back to the common masses along with Lord'smercy and blessings. As far as creating a brand goes, I don't see there is any harm in it. It's only purpose is to attract people towards something that will be beneficial for them. Though they may be selling fancy stuff, have u ever seen how the devotees themselves wear simple dhoti-kurta.
    In the end I would like to add that I have never ever been a part of an organization that gives so much love, affection and care as ISKCON.

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    1. Brother, this is the problem with the one who follows something and builds a perception around it. I am not spoiling the image of ISKCON here. I am just writing what I saw when i "VISITED" THE ISKCON. The head devotee gives you the money collection number on stamp paper or after auditing? Just a little curious..if not then I can't trust his/her numbers, sorry to say this.
      But the way you preached about about ISKCON, you should understand my friend is more about BRAND and its development rather than deteriorating something. I think you didn't read it properly, I visited this ISKCON, just like I have visited Punjabi Bagh, East of Kailash and Bangalore ISKCON. Regarding "prasadam", you are a member so you get 4-5 kinds of sweets, we also got 4-5 kinds of sweets but it was paid. No temple gives prasadam in lieu of money, except if you ask for people who have not accompanied you to that temple. And regarding Brand statement, this is what I was talking about and nothing else. Though, I can't comment on benefits of that. I never said it's fancy stuff, it's "JUST STUFF" they sell including BHAGWAT GEETA, something which is priceless.
      Anyway, its nice you have a point of you and you follow something ardently and receive things like love, affection and care from it. :-)
      Happy reading...

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    2. I respect your views sir. However, I can say one thing that their's more to it than what meets the eye. I recommend that you spend a little more time in the temple, or among devotees the next time you visit it. I am sure your perception will change for the better ( or so I hope ) ;-)

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    3. Brother, definitely I will do. Perceptions are meant to born and break. Lets see...
      Though, thanks for your views and time. Keep following and keep putting your views, will be more than happy to learn from you and everybody else :)

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    4. Good one Mrigank. Nice topic selection and very prompt examples.

      One point you did not cover in this article is the 'Trust' factor. Trust is what keeps a successful brand going for long. Just like apple has it's raving fans who are spend all the money to for Apple experience, ISCON has it's devotees who are ready to devote all their lifetime in quest of spiritual experience.

      I liked the examples from real life you have taken to compare the strategies ISCON took to make their brand success. Like any other brand it has highly spirited team of devoted individuals who are taking this brand cross all boundaries.

      Look forward to read more from you....\m/ \m/

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    5. Yes, trust plays an important role in Brand building. Thanks for bringing out this point. I will keep this in mind for days to come.
      Thanks for reading and keep reading :)

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