India market expansion: Swisse and Power Gummies among brands backing ‘digital-first’ strategies

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

In a survey conducted by BCG and Facebook between Apr 30 and May 3, more than half (54%) of the Indian respondents said they expected to increase their e-commerce spending on vitamins and supplements in the upcoming month.  ©Getty Images
In a survey conducted by BCG and Facebook between Apr 30 and May 3, more than half (54%) of the Indian respondents said they expected to increase their e-commerce spending on vitamins and supplements in the upcoming month. ©Getty Images

Related tags: India, online retail, e-commerce, swisse

Health and wellness brands Swisse and Power Gummies say they are taking a “digital-first” strategy in India as uptake of online retail speeds up in the country.

It follows a new report, ‘Turn the Tide – Unlock the new consumer path to purchase’, published by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Facebook India, which focused on emerging consumer behaviour amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings were collated based on from the responses of over 2,000 respondents from India. It also included responses of consumers from China, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Brazil.

A striking finding was the spike in preference for online shopping across all product categories in India, spanning from health supplements, to household, personal care products, as well as fresh and packaged food.

Indian consumers said that they would expect their online spending on the above areas to increase by at least 30%.

In other countries, there was a muted growth, especially in China where e-commerce is already part of the daily life. In China, the increase in online spending for health supplements was only 7% while Indonesia had seen the highest increase at 47%.

More than half (54%) of the Indian respondents expected to increase their e-commerce spending on vitamins and supplements in the next one month, and the increase could go up by 43%.

In the next six months, the increase can go up by “a lot more”​ for 23% of the respondents.

The report noted this as an interesting finding as Indian consumers were poised to spend more on e-commerce, even for the traditionally offline categories such as first aid and health supplements products.

As online retail flourishes in India, Swisse told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that the firm would adopt a “digital-first”​ strategy to cater to the digitally savvy target consumer group.  

“As most offline stores pan-India are still unserviceable, this high consumer purchase intent towards health supplement has shifted to E-commerce.

“It has now emerged as the go-to sales partner and the only mode of commerce allowed to operate, servicing more than 90% of pin codes in the country,” ​Akash Bedi, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer of H&H Group – the parent company of Swisse – said.

The firm is working with over 10 e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Nykaa, since venturing into the Indian market​ in February.

The firm has seen a “significant increase” ​in its immunity range of probiotics, calcium plus vitamin D, multivitamins and magnesium in the last six to seven weeks.

“We aim to become the leading online premium health and wellness brand in India with a differentiated product portfolio over the next three years,”​ he added.

Four times growth

Start-up Power Gummies, which specialises in gummy supplements, said its online product sales saw a four times rebound between March and May .

Following the lockdown, the firm saw its pre-COVID-19 sales nosedived from IND$8m (US$105k) per month to IND$1m (US$13k), as deliveries of nutraceutical products were not allowed since it did not fall under the category of 'essential' items. 

However, as the restrictions eased, deliveries of products bought online resumed, which saw the firm's monthly product sales rose to IND$4m (US$52k).

"As things progressed, deliveries became normal and online market places such as Amazon, Nykaa resumed orders.

"Due to the lockdown, majority of the people have turned to online shopping for supplements which they would rather have shopped offline…So far, we have sold two million gummies”​ CEO Divij Bajaj said.

The firm said it has been expanding its presence on the e-commerce platforms, with recent entry into Smytten, Pharmeasy, and would soon launch on Big Basket.

We are doing various marketing and branding activities on their e-commerce portal and their social networks to further boost our brand visibility and sales.

“Also, we are doing marketing and branding activities on our Social Media platforms to build our customer base and boost our sales,” ​he added.

It added that it was expanding its footprint in the tier 1 and 2 markets as well as going international via its website and major platforms such as Amazon.com.

Growth opportunities

Besides the preference for online spending, the online searches on “health and immunity” ​surged 120% in the first week of April compared to the last week of January, said the BCG-Facebook report.

The trend has presented an “interesting opportunity” ​for brands across different product categories, the report added.

For instance, brands could engage consumers with “tailored messaging around health and wellness.”

Swisse echoed the view, saying that it would focus on creating awareness and addressing myths around supplements use via influencer-led campaigns on social media.

“With India being predominantly reactive towards health and well-being, we would be focusing on creating awareness, influencing behaviours and breaking the myths associated with the category,” ​Bedi said.  

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