‘The right time’: Swisse MD on venturing into India as firm turns 50

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Victorian Commissioner to South Asia Michelle Wade (from right), Bollywood actress Nushrat Bharucha, Global Victoria CEO Gonul Serbest, Swisse Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Nick Mann, and Swisse Government Relations Manager Emily Dunn. ©Swisse
Victorian Commissioner to South Asia Michelle Wade (from right), Bollywood actress Nushrat Bharucha, Global Victoria CEO Gonul Serbest, Swisse Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Nick Mann, and Swisse Government Relations Manager Emily Dunn. ©Swisse

Related tags: swisse, Australia, India

Swisse’s recent entry into India has been described as “the right time” since as the market conditions have ripen, with the the new venture marking a new milestone for the company which turns 50 this year, according to the company’s MD.

The brand was launched in India in late February, where about 30 of its key products, including its beauty-from-within, vitamins, herbal and mineral range, are available via the major e-commerce platforms, including Amazon, Flipkart, and HealthXp.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Nick Mann, MD of Swisse for the ANZ markets, said that the company had been planning its entry into India for the past two to three years.

“Sixty percent of the population in India are under 35, they are becoming acutely aware of wellness and Western brands. They are obviously digital natives as well,”​ Mann said when commenting on the market.  

“We think our liver detox product will work particularly well, our hair, skin and nail liquid works really where in everywhere we launched in,” ​he said, adding that there was the intention to develop new products specially for the Indian market down the track.

The company’s decision to venture further afield also coincided with its 50th​ year anniversary.

He said that for most of the company’s history, it had built its reputation in the ANZ and China markets, and only went into new territories, such as the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, Netherlands, and Italy in recent years.

“I think it is the right time in the company's evolution, but also the market there is now at a point where we believe that the products will be very warmly embraced by the consumers.” 

Swisse’s launch took place alongside the Australia-Indian Business Exchange trade mission to India.

India’s nutraceutical market has been receiving greater attention from the major brands in recent years. Rival Australian brand Blackmores revealed​ that it would commence a market test drive in India from FY2021.

Two years ago, US brand GNC secured a bumper deal in India​ via a partnership with pharmacy chain Guardian.

COVID-19

As for the current COVID-19 epidemic, Mann said that consumers have been focusing more on wellness and immunity, with higher sales seen in immune products, probiotics, and multivitamins.

When asked the decision to enter India in relation to the coronavirus, he said that the launch would have happened irrespective of the epidemic.

“Irrespective of COVID-19, we would have launched in India in exactly the same way that we did.

We are not in this for the short term or for a quick win, we are in this for a sustainable long-term business in India,” ​he stressed.

Online charm

The company has plans to enter the offline retail although it is taking an online approach at present. 

However, Mann also acknowledged that India’s retail market was highly fragmented as compared to for instance, the ANZ markets.

“If you look at Australia, we have some very big pharmacy chains and retail chains. Coles and Woolworths have over a thousand outlets each, our biggest pharmacy retailer has over 450 very big stores, there's quite a few pharmacy chains in excess of 400 outlets.

“But in India, retail is a lot more fragmented. One of the really big retail players in India might have maybe only over 200 stores…You can’t achieve a lot of market penetration just via deals with three big retailers,” ​he said.

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