What Really Makes Your Startup/brand Successful?
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Over the last three decades of building and running businesses, there is no sure-fire mantra that will make a business succeed. Every business has different nuances and different levers that control or define how big the business can become in a stipulated amount of time.
In my opinion, when it comes to the nutraceutical industry, some of the recent growth drivers to build a successful startup have been the following:
(1) Socio-demographic Shift
In the past, nutraceutical products like supplements and functional foods were primarily purchased by higher socio-economic groups, but this trend is changing quickly thanks to rising disposable income and higher purchasing power. At the same time, there has also been an increase in levels of awareness among consumers about the impact of lifestyle and diet on health. Consumers have therefore begun to appreciate the role of nutrition in preventing and dealing with ailments. Additionally, awareness and appeal of natural health-focused products have also grown multi-fold and most consumers see the cost benefits on spending now to prevent future ailments.
(2) Increased Co-Prescription with Conventional Drugs
Although the perception of nutraceuticals as an optional component by doctors limits the scope of nutraceuticals, this viewpoint has been undergoing a steady shift. As more research throws light on the role of diet and nutrition in disease prevention and treatment, the medical fraternity has embraced the use of nutraceuticals, including functional foods, such as for patients on liquid diets or with meal replacements. In addition to the increase in co-prescriptions by conventional doctors and specialists, nutritionists and dietitians have also been instrumental in recommending specific supplements and functional foods to patients.
(3) New Regulations
As shocking as it may be to most consumers, a study also found that 70% of dietary supplements marketed in India are fake or unregulated (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and RNCOS, April 2017). This has a huge impact on the market, hitting our revenues and also shaking consumer confidence. The root of this problem has been the lack of consistent regulation and standardization of nutraceutical products so far. Fortunately, the FSSAI’s introduction of new regulations in 2018 has been a game changer that has enabled the manufacture, sale, and import of such products within a specific framework. These new regulations include clear standards with well-defined product categories, including supplements and nutraceuticals. Now there is also greater clarity in the regulations with regard to permissible ingredients in nutraceutical products and labeling.
(4) Deeper Market Penetration in India
Over the last one year we have seen a shift in consumption, where a chunk of our sales earlier was from the metros and Tier I cities, we are seeing a steady growth in orders from Tier II and Tier III cities. We believe that this trend will only gain momentum as awareness about the importance of preventive medicine and health and wellness keeps increasing across the country. Consumers are beginning to recognize the health risks of prevalent nutritional deficiencies, which has created an appreciation for dietary supplements, functional foods, and nutraceuticals. The shift in focus towards preventive care has also spurred this growth in demand across the country.
Having said this, there is a certain common denominator between startups that define their growth trajectory to an extent - from exhaustively researching product-market fit, to focusing on what matters most, to building engaged communities. These might sound fairly theoretical in nature, but they go miles to define your brand identity and audience uptake among your peers. Another important point that I want to make here is the importance of hiring the right people – when you are a startup, the people you hire define the company you build. So, it is imperative to invest in motivated and driven people who can multitask effortlessly and who are willing to perceive your startup as their own when it comes to putting endless hours of blood and sweat.
How to Sustain Your Brand by Adopting New-age Marketing Tools
At the risk of sounding philosophical here, growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of multiple forces working together simultaneously - and in today’s digital world, most of these “forces” are digital too.
For me, the most important aspect of being a startup is to optimize all your available resources, be it your time, money or energy, and getting the best possible output across all your marketing touch points. For most self-funded startups marketing dollars play a pivotal role in defining their growth story and therefore, it’s important to utilize these marketing budgets carefully while maximizing the returns, as well as marketing and promoting the product at the right place and the right time.
New age marketing is synonymous to using digital channels to drive brand awareness, user consideration, and last mile sale. The key is to provide comprehensive information on all products and provide an option to convert an unknown visitor into a potential customer.As digital access improves and awareness about lifestyle diseases and nutritional deficiencies increases, it furthers the demand for wellness products and we can now reach such consumers directly. Consumers can be more confident about product quality when they purchase directly from manufacturers online or from reputed retailers. The online option also offers pricing advantages to both sellers and buyers.