Sweet, gelatinous, and rainbow-hued, gummy bears are one of the world’s most loved candies.
In 2018, Divij Bajaj decided to use these sweet treats to retail a range of vitamin and mineral supplements: Power Gummies. Launched in Delhi, under-based Aesthetics Nutrition, the nutraceutical startup uses best-in-class ingredients and a vegan base to create over-the-counter, fast-acting gummies.
“We cater to modern, health-conscious consumers. In a little more than a year, we have already sold 10,00,000 gummy packs, and want to expand our footprint in Tier I and II markets in India,” Divij says.
Prior to starting Aesthetics Nutrition, Divij, an MBA graduate from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, had started edtech platform The Admission Portal to ease the admission process for parents.
Why Power Gummies?
A personal pain point led to the launch of Power Gummies.
Divij’s mother, who hated any kind of pills, would desist from her daily intake of vitamins as “she felt every tablet was a medicine”.
“I would try new ways to give her the essential supplements – crush and mix with honey or liquid chocolate. That was my eureka moment and I embarked on a journey to find alternatives to provide nutrition to everyone. Initially, no one believed in my idea, not even my close relatives. They would say 'what is this toffee business you are trying’?”
But Divij’s research showed that the fear of allopathic medicine was aggravated by modern lifestyles. Stress and unhealthy food habits together were taking a toll on health and leading to short/long-term ailments.
“It is said prevention is better than cure. I thought why not make a product that not only takes care of the anxiety pertaining to pills, but is available in attractive packaging, and is easy to consume and tasty,” Divij says.
Creating the products
Power Gummies was initially a one-man show, be it for finding organisations to help with research of compositions, procurement, or taking products for pilot to market.
Eventually, Divij’s friends started helping him and he started hiring interns. Numerous third-party agencies, labs, and experts were involved on a work-to basis.
“After a successful pilot, I knew this dream had to take off. As the organisation grew, I started hiring industry professionals and experts. Today, we are a 14-member team,” Divij says.
With a team of specialists, including quality and regulatory experts, the team focuses on serious monitoring to ensure quality and safety at the production stage. This ensures “every gummy complies with applicable food and supplement regulations”.
“We only work with vendors and organisations who meet our strict transparency, traceability, and documentation standards. Our products are manufactured in facilities accredited to comply completely with existing good manufacturing practices and with FDA and third-party certifiers like NSF,” Divij says.
The functional food startup has also assembled a team of food scientists and taste experts to discover tastes, textures, and sweeteners.
The challenges and revenue
The Power Gummies packaging includes bottles with smart click -opening type surfaces, which protect the gummies against dust, moisture, and light. The team faced challenges in terms of composition development. It was important to have strong, effective, and safe compositions, and ensure stability.
Divij says it is difficult to produce gummies that are stable and have a long shelf life, which is “where experts come into play”.
The products are plant-based, and do not contain gelatin or other animal-derived elements. The base is made up of Pectin, which is 100 percent vegetarian, and gelatin, gluten, and cruelty-free. The gummies have a shelf life of 18 months.
Power Gummies are currently available in one variant for haircare and in different pack sizes: a one-month pack priced at Rs 1,200 and a two-month pack available for Rs 2,300. The recommended dosage is two gummies per day.
The company operates on a multichannel platform basis, with a mix of B2B and B2C models. Power Gummies are available across the world through the company website and all major ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, Netmeds, and HealthKart.
“For marketing, our core focus has been Instagram with strategic use of influencer marketing. This marketing format has helped us become a word-of-mouth brand at lightning speed. Typically, all healthcare and nutraceutical products have good margins and a lot of money is spent on R&D and consumer education. Customer acquisition costs and lifetime value play a very important role in determining cost propositions and value,” Divij says.
The market and the future
The Indian dietary supplement market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20 percent between 2015 and 2023, according to a study by ResearchandMarkets.
Currently, the nutraceutical startup competes with other players such as HealthKart, Amway (which holds 33.5 percent market share), Pfizer Limited, Merk, Bayer, and Abbott.
According to a Mintel report, nutricosmetics could be the “heart of market growth” in India's vitamins, minerals, and supplements market. An October 2019 Euromonitor report said “gummies and jellies offer opportunities for expanding the consumer base and establishing a greater connection with consumers in India”.
“We are creating a new standard for the adult nutrition market when it comes to the science and precision required before any go-to-market strategy,” Divij says.
The ResearchandMarkets report also says minerals and vitamins comprise over 40 percent of the market, the herbal segment takes around 30 percent, proteins account for 25 percent, and others make up the remaining five percent.
As health concerns rise worldwide in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the market for supplements is likely to grow further and faster.
In 2018 and later in 2020, Aesthetics Nutrition raised funding from Alfa Ventures, DSG Consumer Partners Singapore, and Venture Catalysts. The team will use the funds for team building, improving packaging, supply chain management, and scientific research for future variants.
The team plans to launch two variants soon. The Beach Body Gummy variant, which aims to help burn fat, is in the final stage of clinical trials at present.
“We plan to expand further in the OTC category, and want to make Power Gummies a household name in the adult nutrition market,” Divij says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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