In this new Insight series we connect with industry professionals to gain idea on starting and scaling a D2C Brand. It features startup experience, growth hacks, D2C industry highlights and learnings directly from expert!
A little background, D2C brands are companies that built its offering around direct digital marketing channels as opposed to selling through an online marketplace, retailer, or auction site. D2C business model in India eliminates middlemen to reach the end consumers and thus saves costs spent on distribution.
StartupTalky exclusively interviewed Dr. Himanshu Gandhi, Co-Founder and CEO of Mother Sparsh to know his perspectives on D2C Brand & how he scaled Mother Sparsh from INR 10 lakhs investment to achieving an annual turnover of approximately INR 22 crore in FY20. Mother Sparsh is an innovative eco-friendly baby & mother care brand focused on delivering a holistic experience to the mothers and babies with their natural, eco-friendly, biodegradable, paraben-free and chemical-free product offerings.
Let's see what Dr. Himanshu Gandhi, Co-Founder and CEO of Mother Sparsh has got to say -
- Initial Journey and Growth of D2C Brand Mother Sparsh
- How Mother Sparsh is different from other D2C brands in the ecosystem?
- Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on D2C industry in general and Mother Sparsh in particular
- Offline & online marketing strategies adopted by Mother Sparsh
- How founders of Mother Sparsh evolved the brand identity & create brand loyalty amongst customers? How do they control the 4P’s?
- Mother Sparsh's Supply Chain Model
- How Mother Sparsh ensures higher degree of uniqueness in its product range? How does this D2C brand stay on top of new technologies & changing customer habits?
- Metrics used to compare D2C brand Mother Sparsh from its competitors
- Advice/expert’s opinion/findings on the D2C ecosystem in India & the Future of D2C industry
1.From where did it all begin? It’d be great to walk through the initial journey of the company from ideation, team building to launch, funding, revenue & growth.
The inception of Mother Sparsh happened after my marriage with Rishu Gandhi, who happens to be the co-founder of the company. Prior to our entrepreneurial journey, I was a government officer while Rishu was a Java Developer at Infosys. After our marriage, we discovered our shared zeal to identify and fill the gaps in the baby and mother care segment.
We got into rigorous Research & Development (R&D), which was inclined towards recognizing the specific personal care needs of babies as well as mothers, and evaluating it in lieu of the gaps in the market. Therefore, our relentless endeavor to fill the gaps in the segment by working on a need-based proposition led to the birth of Mother Sparsh in 2016. We started with a seed funding of nearly INR 10 lakh, which was used in R&D and development of our first few products. We were able to break even in FY ’20 and went on to close the previous financial year with revenue of nearly INR 22 crore.
2. How do you differentiate yourself from other D2C brands in the ecosystem? Highlight the USP, Features & the problems that your brand tends to solve.
There are several D2C brands in the personal care segment, but the same does not stand true in the case of baby and mom care brands in India. Even if there are a few, they are mostly the ones with product portfolios laden with harmful chemicals and toxins. We are probably the only Indian nature-based baby and mom care brand that caters directly to the end consumers with its wide range of innovative products. For instance, we were the first D2C brand in India to introduce 99% Pure Water unscented biodegradable baby wipes that are good not just for the sensitive skin of the little ones but for the environment as well.
As mentioned earlier, our USP is that we bring the power of nature-based ingredients and Ayurvedic herbs in the most unadulterated manner, in a form that suits the modern lifestyle of millennial moms as well as their babies. While working on a need-based proposition, we have introduced products like Dashmoola Hair Lep, which new moms can use to deal with all kinds of post-pregnancy hair and scalp related troubles. Over past few years, we have fulfilled our commitment to solve or personal care woes of moms and babies with solutions that originate from mother nature.
3. The pandemic has posed its own challenges and opportunities. We are intrigued to know how it impacted the D2C industry in general and your company in particular? What strategies, plans etc., did you adopt and where do you stand at present?
The pandemic has brought about a significant change in the buying pattern of the consumers, with the trend now being more inclined towards online buying. This stands true for the consumers based in metro cities and those based in tier-2 cities. Further, for D2C brands, the consumers are much more willing to adapt and evolve to purchase products directly from the official brand website. This has been enabled by the increased assurances that the consumers have gained with regard to buying products and merchandise from the brand website.
For D2C brand, the marketing strategies were focused to increase the website sales and the marketing orientation has changed towards website. Moreover, the brand has worked and developed a loyalty & good customer retention programs. For example, we have curated a specific set of offers for our website to help retain our customers.
We observed a significant increase in the traffic during the pandemic which also helped us to make a change in our marketing orientation and eventually we had invested a decent amount on our website to get the traffic along with the specific set of offers for customers.
4. Target-based marketing is the craze these days! What are the offline & online marketing strategies adopted by your brand? How do you ensure that your brand is known across the nook & corner of your target market?
Mother Sparsh has always tried to work towards baby-mom specific set of products and bring innovation through its merchandise. In terms of reaching to our target audience, Mother Sparsh worked for better penetration via hospital sampling amongst premium hospitals across PAN India, catering specifically to expecting mothers during the early phase of pregnancy. We have effectively worked in this manner to achieve success and the brand continues to working on the sampling mechanism this year as well.
Besides, the brand campaign designed is ensured to serve with the right set of communication for reaching out to the influencers. As per the feedback from various mothers, we have witnessed a big concern over hair fall in the post-pregnancy stages. So while making the effort of understanding the consumer need and bringing innovation as a factor, we launched Ayurvedic Dashmool Hair Lep.
5. Amongst thousands of companies in the D2C domain, how did you evolve your brand identity and create brand loyalty amongst your customers? How do you control the 4P’s (Price, Place, Promotion, Product) of your brand.
In India, the culture of buying products via D2C companies is evolving at a very nice pace and is currently in a dynamic phase in our country. For Mother Sparsh, the key for creating a brand identity has always been its offering. In terms of our efforts, we have managed to provide India’s first water based wipes which is eco-friendly. The brand has maintained its ethos and launched products on Need-based Proposition and throughout worked to evolve the market.
The journey of Mother Sparsh has evolved with bringing innovation from its products, whether it be India’s first water-based wipes or After-bite solution for babies, which is very unique and one of its own kind of curative action.
As mentioned earlier, the brand recently launched Ayurvedic Dashmool Hair Lep, specifically curated product for hair-fall for post-pregnancy. The concept of this product was introduced from home remedy which is positioned against chemically made gel/crème based products available in the market.
With regard to controlling the 4 Ps of Marketing Mix -
- For products we strive towards innovation and need-based positioning
- For pricing we work on a valued pricing mechanism.
- For place, we cater to aspirational consumers hailing from middle to higher income group, and
- As far as promotion is concerned, we have relied majorly on brand website offers, hospital sampling and top e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Firstcry etc.
6. How does your supply chain model add value to the company’s process? From product development, making the prospective customer aware of the product to order placement, distribution & post sale services, what does the process look like?
The brand inherits a culture of R&D and quality driven products, therefore, the value of pursuing or products starts from deep dive market research. Also, we incorporate the feedback of consumers (mothers) about the need and requirement for their wellbeing. With this extensive study, comes the quality work of our R&D team to understand and recommend the most suitable offerings in sync with the ethos of innovation of the organization.
While different types of media vehicles are leveraged, we enable effective communication by inking associations with various influencers on social media as well as tools like Facebook ads, google ads and print ads.
With every effort of launch, we are always willing to provide the feedback to our team members so as to continuously work on our offerings which eventually helps us to evaluate and create future path for new development and process enhancement.
7. Product Differentiation is the key! How do you ensure a higher degree of personalization/uniqueness in your product range? Are prospective customers surveyed? Is feedback mechanism reliable? Or any other strategy? Is your R&D strong?How do you stay on top of new technologies and changing customer habits?
The uniqueness of our product range comes from the fact that we provide expertly crafted nature-oriented solutions in the form of ready baby products. The brand inherits a culture of R&D and quality driven products. The journey of Mother Sparsh has evolved with bringing innovation from its products and inheriting the values of innovation. We stay on the top of the things majorly by motivating our R&D team to attend webinars and encourage them to widen their area of study.
8. What metrics do you analyze to compare your performance from that of your competitors & previous periods? (E.g. conversion rate, unique customer, visitors rate etc., ) Real-life case studies/metrics information would be much appreciated.
Mother Sparsh’s offerings for the niche nature-based baby and mom care market have no competition as such with any other brand. This is primarily because most baby and mom care brands thrive on chemicals and toxins rather than nature-oriented ingredients. More or less, the way we serve our consumers is different where we indulge in consolidating our understandings about home remedies & natural remedies to develop new products.
9. It’s be great if you could share any Advice/expert’s opinion/findings on the D2C ecosystem in India. And what do you think is the future of this industry? What should the budding entrepreneurs have a look out for?
D2C undoubtedly is the future in the market. But as a founder, we are concerned about the quality parameters which we feel should be enhanced so as to give value to the end consumer. It is also imperative that any entrepreneur who introduces new products in the market must ensure that while they are conducive to the needs of the consumers, they should not leave any harmful after effect on the environment.
The idea behind the endeavors of any budding entrepreneur should be to thrive on eco-friendly and organic product range that leads to holistic wellbeing of both individuals and environment.