The belief in religion, spirituality and astrology is deep rooted in our culture and will never lose its appeal among Indians. Even in the US, there is a huge market for astrology and entrepreneurs have rightly tapped into this segment. Believe it or not, most of us are inclined towards astrology in some way or the other, even as a means of entertaining ourselves. Whenever we are distressed, people cope up with these challenges in different ways, and one such way is through astrology. Even critics who deny it outright probably take a glance through their weekly horoscope in newspaper columns, perhaps to entertain themselves.
Estimated to be over $40 billion, as per media reports, the Indian spiritual and religious market is promising. Out of this, the horoscopes market in India alone is $10 billion, with about 2 million astrologers practising astrology.The US online astrology market is worth USD 200 Million, and the Telecom Astrology Market in US & UK is pegged at USD 1 Billion.In India, Astrology forms one of the quartets of media content that sells – ABCD – Astrology, Bollywood, Cricket and Divinity. Astrology is a “mainstay” category in publishing, with belief rates of 30-40% in the US, 70-90% in Western Europe and 90%+ in the Asia Pacific region.
Opportunities in the Online Astrology Sector
The growth in technology has significantly increased the traction for astrology. According to a Ken research report, the Indian online matchmaking market revenues have grown at a CAGR of 21% from 2010-2015. It will continue to grow at a considerable CAGR rate thus reaching INR 20.6 billion by 2020. An add-on astrology compatibility profile in such a market enhances the credibility of the astrology business.
Many technology based astrology portals have created their own niche in the online astrology sector, by developing algorithms, which generate personalised astrology predictions in multiple vernacular languages, thus providing potential customers with hassle free, technology enabled services.
Online market places:Online marketplaces have found a place for themselves in almost every sector and astrology is not an exception. However with a plethora of services on offer, the fragmented market needs to be tapped and organised, and the opportunity comes from this fragmentation. According to sources, every year, more than 100,000 new astrologers enter the market.While the vastness of astrological services range from reading and predicting your stars and planets to selling semi-precious stones, Numerology, Palmistry, Gemology, Vaastushastra, Tarot Reading, etc, getting them under one roof is a huge opportunity. An online aggregator that provides all genres of astrological services could be a game changer.
Online consultation: Online consultation is also a growing area, where specialists and experts can provide solutions to their clients either by email or by via live chat. This offers convenience for clients from any part of the world, as they can get solutions for their problems from the comforts of their home. With the advent of astrology softwares, astrologers can reduce the time taken to prepare the predictions and eliminate errors in calculations, thus tapping the potential market irrespective of geography. This has opened new avenues for independent astrology practitioners, who have now started their own social media accounts in Facebook and Youtube.
Technology companies and service providers: As astrology marketplaces and online consultation continues to boom, technology companies and service providers can innovate and provide customised solutions and products to meet end consumer needs, which will further boost the industry. Some of them have chosen to provide a marketplace for puja services, while others have chosen to deliver Prasad from temples at the click of a button.
With user friendly UI and UX backed by complex algorithms, portals such as clickastro.com are disrupting online astrology and are reaching out to customers through mobile apps and websites.
Challenges astrology start-ups face
Online to gain popularity:Being a traditional profession, astrology is often believed to be more authentic offline. Many Indians still believe in meeting an astrologer face to face, receive a handwritten horoscope and find it hard to accept computer generated ones.In the online space, the astrologers’ expertise is also questionable as he or she is known only by qualifications that are displayed on webpages, whereas in the offline space, expertise and reputation is established primarily through word of mouth. Many astrologers are also unaware of the vast potentials of an online business.
While this is the case, many people, especially youngsters are accepting online services widely,especially because of its convenience. The challenge here is to establish a brand, which can earn the trust of consumers. Surprisingly, India, with a $10 billion horoscope market,is yet to see a nationwide brand in astrology, and this by itself is an opportunity worth exploring.
Investor sentiments: While some investors are positive about the sector, some are skeptical. There has been many small ticket size initial funding from angel investors in the segment, but significant investment from venture capitalists are yet to come. For large VCs, this segment is still a ‘wait and watch’ sector, as they want the startups to offer long lasting consumer value. However, the success stories of technology backed astrology start-ups are a sound proof that this segment is comparatively a risk free business sector.
Though there has been mixed response from investors, the astrology startups are fully charged up to acquire customers through scalable business models. Astrology, after all, is one of the few recession proof industries in India. All these say that online astrological services are here to stay for a very long time.
Arjun Ravindran is a serial entrepreneur, mentor and strategy advisor with over 15 years of experience in Consumer Internet and Mobile App Product Management, Digital Marketing, Finance and Software Development in many parts of the world. He is a director in several internet based companies including Astro-Vision Futuretech, GreyWolf Digital, Malayogam and Wedviser People Connect. His other passions include Artificial Intelligence, Algorithmic Trading Platforms and BlockChain.