Sunday, October 21, 2007

TV route to salvation

The economics of spiritualism has gone through a radical shift.

The distance to spiritual emancipation, like almost everything else, has been drastically shortened by the onset of globalisation. Unlike earlier, today, spiritualism has got ‘commoditised’ and is available at home, at one’s convenience. In fact, the entire economics of ‘spiritual delivery’ in India has gone through a radical shift. And the one’s who have been instrumental in making this shift happen, are these new age spiritual consultants who, like any true blue management consultant, have been deftly employing the concepts of marketing and economics in establishing their brand of spiritualism.

No wonder India has always been a nation of many conspicuous contrasts! And this has been amply carried forward by a distorted globalisation which touched few and changed their lives for good, while the rest continue to be beyond its purview. So, irrespective of their state, both the sections of people required spiritual intervention in there own ways. If on one hand, fiercely competitive work environment and ever changing lifestyles have added to stress levels (particularly in the metros), further eroding the basic family values and resulting in fractured relationships, creating an unprecedented vacuum for finding solutions, on the other hand, for that section of the society which have been completely neglected; have been earnestly looking forward for similar interventions, to evolve out of their own state of deplorable livelihood. So, with a market as ripe as this, over the past few years what we observed is a robust evolution of spiritual consulting, wherein the leading consultants associated themselves with a slew of spiritual channels, employing global delivery medium of television, in myriad regional languages and in variety of packages appealing to each and every viewer across age groups!

Interestingly, the market of spiritualism is such that even the economics of it looks very exciting. Researches state that some channels like GOD and Sadhna attract 100% viewership of 35-plus age group whereas channels like Aastha, Sanskar and Zee Jagran manage 46%, 41% and 60%, respectively, below the age group of 35. It is not just that the top lines of these channels look exciting, what is more critical is the resultant brand that these spiritual consultants have been able to create, for themselves, through such associations. And this has not only helped in raising their fee bar (Shri Shri Ravishankar and Baba Ramdev, leading the pack) for their consulting services but has also helped in terms of creating a huge market for spiritual merchandise like CDs, books, periodicals, medicines etc (It is reported that the sales of spiritual books have been growing by more than 30% annually). No wonder, the estimated market for spiritual consulting currently stands at more than Rs 2000 crores, and it is growing at a breakneck pace.

But like the conventional consulting business where differentiation is the key for survival, it would be interesting to observe how our home grown spiritual consultants build those differentiators for future sustainence, as currently most of them engage in almost similar practice and that is - delivery of salvation at the touch of remote button!


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