We aim to become a $2 billion business by 2024: Meera Iyer, Medlife

Meera Iyer, CMO, Medlife, talks about growth trajectories, their association with Madison Media, marketing spends and adapting to new technologies

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 9:58 AM


Meera Iyer

Medlife, founded in 2014, is one of the fastest-growing healthcare platforms in India. The company is simplifying healthcare, making it comprehensive, affordable and effective in 29 states and over 4000 cities and towns across the country. As a one-stop-shop, Medlife has established itself as a leading pharmacy and is quickly making inroads into the diagnostics and wellness space.

Medlife has hit the Rs 100 crore revenue milestone in September. The company is also focused on attaining break-even on a unit economics basis over the next 6-8 months. They have recently appointed Madison Media as the media AOR.

Meera Iyer, CMO, Medlife speaks to us about growth trajectories, their association with Madison Media, marketing spends and adapting to new technologies and way forward.

Talking more about hitting Rs 100 crore in revenue for September, Iyer said, “Right now Medlife is on a tremendous growth trajectory. So, it will hinge on a lot of customer acquisitions that we intend to do. Today, online pharmacy retail is somewhere in the range of 11,000 crores per month. Therefore the strategy is clearly to get more people to shop online for medicines or book lab tests online and consult with online doctors. It is happening rapidly because of the fact that there is a huge need gap in the market, going out of the metros you don’t find these kinds of availability of medicines or proper lab diagnostic centres. We are also focused on up-selling and cross-selling to the set of customers, given that we have three different business units and verticals within Medlife itself.

Elucidating further on the strategies followed to attain break-even she said, “Breakeven also requires a microscopic and sharp focus on costs and that’s something we are keenly focused on, with respect to our targets every month, improving our overall burn and contribution margin as a percentage.”

Speaking on reaching out to non-metro customers, she said, “You look at the penetration of smartphones, there are close to 500-600 million smartphone users out there, which means there are so many people digitally active. You already have an e-commerce shopping base of more than 60 million people. Today, we service half a million people every month. Therefore 50-60 million which is the online shopping ‘janta’ is a massive headroom to grow. These people are not metro- centric and 42 per cent of Medlife’s business are from towns with less than 1 million population. We have 39 fulfilment centres in about 16 cities in the country. We deliver locally with our own fleet and the rest of the places we have been sending orders to customers through mail orders, that is 40 per cent of the business today. This is a sector where the amount of decibel and marketing spends are relatively high".

"This sector is taking the mass media route to get more and more adoption. In such a scenario, you want a strong partner to handle the money judiciously and prudent to be able to give you the best ROI,” said Iyer while talking about Medlife’s association with Madison as a media agency".

Iyer continued, “While evaluating various agencies we found Madison to be one which not just came with basics level of tools, but also with well-rooted mindset of taking data level decisions. They are also a team which comes with a significant amount of experience and has seen the entire transformational journey of ATL to digital. Therefore, Madison is a good agency to partner with given their experience and data-led experience.”

Throwing some light on Medlife’s marketing and ad spends, Iyer said, “Today we have a fair bit of money being spent on mass media and equal amount is spent on digital media, across performance marketing as well as online branding- which has also become a very important way to build frequency with the same kind of audience you are reaching. So, it’s actually a complete 50-50 mix of spends we would be doing across mass media and digital.”

Telling us more about the technologies used and the technologies Medlife is planning to adopt, she said, “I think Artificial Intelligence is absolutely important especially in terms of managing the kind of huge volume that we are handling today. We have more than 300,000 people who come on the platform each day. There are many customers who ask repetitive questions. So we are developing an AI-based chatbot. Similarly, there is a need for a marketing automation system that will allow us to cater to the massive customer base. The average age of Medlife audience is 40+. So, one of the things we are trying to work on is Voice-based recognition system. Also, with so much business coming from non-metro cities we want to give the customers the option of ‘Indic’ when they come on to Medlife platform. All this is going to make a big difference to the customer experience.”

Iyer's vision as CMO is completely tied to the company’s vision. “Our vision is to improve the health outcomes of about 100 million Indians by making it very simple, personal and accessible,” she said.

Speaking more about their focus areas Iyer said, "We want to become a $2 billion business by 2024. We will be focussing on the entire pharma retail, lab diagnostics and e-consultations. In addition to that, we are open to other services apart from the bouquet of services we already offer.”

“Lab diagnostics is something where we are looking to expand our presence. As it is said, 'the sky is the limit', if we are able to have a really good business model here, what stops us from thinking of overseas market at some point in time? Right now the complete focus is on getting business at breakeven and scaling up rapidly while keeping the unit economic metrics in complete check,” concluded Iyer.

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