‘As a D2C brand, the biggest leverage you have is closeness to consumer'
e4m D2C Revolution Summit: At the D2C Leaders Roundtable, brand experts share their successful journeys
The first edition of the e4m D2C Revolution Summit and Awards 2022 was a coming together of noted D2C marketers, executives, innovators, challengers, investors, developers and media. The day-long summit saw participation from some of the most successful names of the D2C industry who shared their thoughts, journeys and engaged in meaningful discussions on topics that matter, providing important insights that are the catalysts for the growth of D2C brands in a complex multicultural, multilingual market that India is. The day unpacked topics ranging from growth, omnichannel, retail, branding, performance marketing, retention, as well as secrets no one else in the industry is talking about.
The last session of the day was a D2C Leaders Roundtable that featured Divij Bajaj, Founder and CEO, Power Gummies; Malika Sadani, Founder and CEO, The Moms Co.; Bala Sarda, Founder, Vahdam India; Vinay Singh, Co-Founder, Partner, Fireside Ventures; Sukhleen Aneja, CEO - Beauty & Brands Business, Good Glamm Group; Alakh Pandey, Founder & CEO, Physics Wallah, and Shreedha Singh, Founder, Khadi Essentials. The panel was moderated by Aditi Mishra, Chief Executive Officer, Lodestar UM.
Speaking on the journey of Khadi Essentials, Singh mentioned that the brand started from a personal skin situation. “In my quest to find a sustainable and long-term cure, I ended up experimenting with ayurveda. I started the research on the formulations that we wanted to work on when I got married in 2017. Fortunately, the ayurvedic chikitsak or doctor who had helped us to cure my issue was involved in the formulation of the inaugural launch of the brand. We wanted to do something broader and deeper with ayurveda because it focuses a lot on holistic wellness. And then the ayurveda company was born in 2020. But Covid brought all D2C brands together and showed us a larger picture. Things were probably not easy for the other side of the world, but for brands that were trying to create a story online, there was a natural transition of customers and buyers on e-commerce sites.”
Sadani also recounted her experience. “As a mother, I was looking for good quality products for my daughters. It was a difficult task to do because when we started, there were huge global giants that existed in that space. Yet we went ahead as people who were starting for the first time with the zeal to create a category called 'mom and baby'. The idea behind the company was always to build relevance and add value to the life of the mother. I honestly feel that as a D2C brand, the biggest leverage you have is the closeness to the consumer and how you deepen the bond with them. This is why it wasn't just passing on the products but also about the information and conversation with them.”
Mishra moved on to Aneja mentioning the latter's interesting exposure in terms of working with traditional brands and how they market, which is different from how D2C brands work. Sharing her understanding of the difference between these two models and the growth of D2C, Aneja explained, “I had the privilege of working on some large beauty brands with global presence and footprint. In today's day and age, with a younger population, consumers need things that are bespoke to them. As large-scale mass manufacturers, you always end up chasing the greatest denominator. However, today in the age and era we are in, where consumers want tailor-made solutions, D2C is very happy finding a niche and then expanding it. And why I genuinely believe that D2C will continue to grow is because there is extreme consumer intimacy. You are listening to your consumer, interacting with them, customising for them and growing along the way. And that will always be relevant.”
The session moved on to discuss the models that work best for a D2C brand.
Sharing his thoughts about traversing and straddling multiple stages of growth, Bajaj said, “To begin with, nobody could imagine this category. I remember when I would go for funding, everybody would laugh off and today, we have 34 odd rivals, out of which 18 are funded. When we started, we were clear that we could not target the whole of Delhi. We had to understand who was buying us first. You start small, you start to understand who is buying you. Once we understand who is buying us, we then go to see whether they are satisfied, what else they want, their problems and how do I customise for them, how I fit myself and what they want next. What they want next is my NPD and who is buying me is where I want to scale up. Because then I create a similar pool of the set audience. And since we were a science brand, it was very important to maintain that sustainability and future approach that we have to be very particular alongside fun towards science.”
Sarda spoke about his observations and experience of how things change when one goes beyond just selling online versus when one goes omnichannel. “Overall there is a significant change and I would say that the kind of opportunities you get online to interact with your consumer is not even 100th of that in an offline store. I mean, we sell in the global market and there is no concept of a promoter. So we get like four hours to demo in one store probably twice a month just because the cost of anything there is expensive. And that is why honestly, the digital-first route is so important."
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