After the success of the company's four existing stores (three in New Delhi, one in Gurgaon), it opened a fifth store in Ghaziabad on July 27.
Muscle and Strength India is an authorised retailer and distributor of 39 well-known fitness supplement brands, including BSN, Cobra Labs, Dymatize Nutrition, MusclePharm, Optimum Nutrition, Ronnie Coleman and Ultimate Nutrition.
Education on supplementation
The firm positions itself as a provider of genuine, high-quality fitness supplements and sports nutrition products in a bid to appeal to customers who have grown wary of counterfeit supplements and products containing prohibited substances.
Founder Sourav Kumar, a former national swimmer, told NutraIngredients-Asia: "Having been in the fitness industry myself for eight years, I was always very curious about how supplements worked, and how they fit into the Indian market.
"But I found that so many people did not know what they were consuming, and I decided to take things to the next level by not only opening a retail store, but helping to educate consumers on different supplements and what they should look out for when buying such products."
He highlighted the prevalence of counterfeit sports nutrition products in India, which were not only unauthorised but also contained prohibited and harmful substances.
"There are a lot of duplicate and fake supplements imported from China, and many of the manufacturers behind these products add harmful substances like glucose powder and steroid salt into them.
"But a lot of people don’t what they're putting into their bodies, and end up harming themselves as a result."
Indeed, there have been issues in recent years regarding prohibited substances in sports nutrition products in India, which has caused authorities to clamp down with stricter regulations for both manufacturers and retailers.
To counter this, Muscle and Strength India has an in-house team of researchers who gather relevant information and use it to publish educational articles on the company website, as well as its social media pages. It also has a media team that produces educational videos for customers.
Kumar said, "We educate the customers on how to identify fake supplements, based on quality checks we perform. For instance, the official importer label should be on the product, and customers should be able to use the barcode and serial number to trace the item back to its original manufacturer."
He added that supplements such as protein powders, BCAAs, multivitamins, fat-burners and pre-workout formulations were most popular amongst both male and female Indian consumers.
No chances taken
He further said that Muscle and Strength India "does not take any chances" when it comes to ensuring the quality and safety of its products, providing a clear description of each item’s composition and nutritional value for different types of consumers.
The company claims to have the widest range of fitness supplements and sports nutrition products in India, with over 600 products from 39 brands, and it plans to increase its reach.
When it comes to competition from large MNCs like GNC, Kumar is not worried.
"Their target market is also different from ours — they sell products for the general population, while we are focused on those who are physically active, who go to the gym and who engage in athletic training. We are not worried about competition in that regard.
E-commerce is another area in which he feels confident.
"In this area, there are major market players like Amazon, where anyone can register and sell supplements. However, customers are unable to verify the authenticity of these products.
"Our strategy is to sell our products both online and in stores for the same price, and regardless of where customers choose to buy them, they can access the information behind the safety and authenticity of our products."
He added, "In 2018, we plan to open another 25 stores in India, particularly in the West, South and North East parts of the country.
At the same time, he is considering bringing the chain overseas, saying, "We are currently concentrating on India, but once we are more established here, we will look at which countries we might want to enter.
"We are also open to FDI (foreign direct investment), and we are going to add more brands to our inventory within the next two to three months.
"We might even become the exclusive partner for some brands that are not in India yet, and we have spoken to these brands. But as of now, that is all I can say."