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Innovation is Going to be Key in The D2C Space Das looks at 5x growth this fiscal and growth from brand building through website

By Deepa Vaidya

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Nat Habit
Swagatika Das, co-founder, Nat Habit

"What we wanted to build was not necessarily a digital first brand. We wanted to build a brand that offered something very unique in the form of fresh, 100% natural products, which meant absolutely no chemicals, no preservatives whatsoever, Swagatika Das, co-founder Nat Habit, a natural beauty care brand says about the story of Nat Habit that was founded in 2019.

"Typically, if you look at the personal care market, it's cluttered with a lot of similar products because the same labs make the same formulations by the same manufacturer who is only white-labelling them. The idea was to give the customers something really good, pure, which can be effective. We were not limited to thinking that it will just be a digital brand or an offline brand. But definitely, digital first came to us because we were trying to do cold deliveries of these products and it was only going to be possible through our own network and via selling digitally."

"Secondly, we were very sure that we wanted customer data and closeness to customers. So, that's the edge and advantage that you get out of digital."

"Third, it's a new age brand, catering more to the natural-conscious population, which is heavy on digital. What worked well was that it happened pretty much during COVID, when online shopping accelerated. We are a 100% digital brand, but 92% - 95% of our revenue comes from our own website. So, it's not just a digital brand but a D2C brand," she adds.

Three years into the business and how the market has evolved from the time they forayed into it, Das says, "The personal care market is about INR 100,000 crore. We consider the entire market as the addressable market because of two main factors. One, there is a revolution towards using natural products across the board. Second, we have a high connectability with tier 2/3 persons because of our pricing and packet sizes and the way we make our products."

How difficult it is to build a D2C brand in India and on their current challenges, Das says, "So irrespective of D2C, if you are building a brand in the consumer space, the secret to it is, you have to differentiate yourself in your offering, actual product offering as well as communicating to the customer that it is truly different. We had to pull off fresh manufacturing. So, we have our own manufacturing and formulations. From research to manufacturing and delivering every day fresh involved a lot of effort, even today. But then that allows us to give something totally differentiated to the customer. To build a differentiated product, and give something truly better to a customer, innovation is going to be key in the D2C space, given the hyper competitiveness in the market."

"So, I think that the biggest challenge would be marketing for sure. The cost of advertising online is not cheap. It takes time to build out your own organic channels. But we have built our two very strong channels. One is on content where we have utilised WhatsApp and Instagram."

On the business' performance and innovations in the last two years, Das says, "We were shut in the early half of 2020 and towards the end when it picked up, we have grown 30x till now. Today, we are at a revenue of INR 30 crore. We ship about 1,50,000 units/month. When COVID-19 hit us, we had five products. Today we have 35 products across hair, skin and baby care."

On the role of investors in their brand's growth journey, she says, "We raised a seed funding round from Whiteboard Capital and a pre-series A from Sequoia Surge, who have been pretty supportive and have been mentoring us."

"Secondly, we had decided to have special angel investors such as the CEOs of Spencer's, Yoga Bars, Paperboat and BharatPe on our mentorship board."

On the company's expansion plans for 2022-23, Das says, "We are looking to grow five times in the next financial year. Primarily, will work on our website, which is the difficult path typically taken by brands. We have recently listed ourselves on the marketplace and started with Amazon and Flipkart and would like to grow on these marketplaces, along with Nykaa. We are looking to be an INR 120 crore company by March "23.

  • Best Seller : Hair care products
  • Total SKUs : 35
  • Team Size : 100
  • Repeat customer ratio: Just above the first order.
  • Online platform resulting in maximum revenue: Recently, listed on Amazon and Flipkart.
  • Turnover for FY 2021-22: Annualised INR 30 crore (as on April 15, 2022).
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