Founded in 2019, Wellversed is both a distributor and manufacturer of wellness products spanning supplements, functional foods, and personal care.
Co-founder Aanan Khurma told NutraIngredients-Asia that its business model has evolved since its founding years – from distributing for other brands to developing and distributing its own as well.
It said the best of both worlds – having in-house distribution and product development teams – is using learning opportunities gathered from distribution, a touchpoint where most of the consumer interaction happens; and turning them to value-add its own products.
“It’s a full stack wellness company, where we want to have control over every aspect of it. You can’t create great products until you have control over the entire stack from ingredients to the end consumer. It’s been proven time after time with several consumer brands. They come into popularity and eventually fade out because they’re not adding value and they’ve burnt their marketing dollars.”
Wellversed currently hosts over 25 brands on its platform, including 6 of its own.
“Most of the wellness brands, whether it’s supplements or skin care, are getting their products contract-manufactured with a third-party where they lack control over quality and formulation. Competitors are selling the same products in the market, so product differentiation is about creating a formulation truly unique and add some value to the consumers’ lives.”
Whether distribution or product development, Khurma said that it is “very selective” at this point.
“Consumer brands is obviously a crowded place. What ends up happening is that brands are essentially built around a few SKUs. If you see legacy brands, they don’t have hundreds of SKUs clubbed under them. One brand typically wins out on a particular need or product. The one who wins the game is the one who identifies a need and solves it better than anyone else.”
Distribution-wise, Khurma said that the firm is eyeing “hero SKUs that adds value to the consumers” on the Wellversed platform. Additionally, it would consider investing in companies aligned with its mission.
It is amid building an internal data analytics tool called Vinci to consolidate and make use of data gathered from both teams to streamline decision-making.
“A lot of the value that Wellversed adds to the ecosystem is understanding the consumer. Data helps a lot when it comes to developing a nuanced understanding of consumers. It helps to validate things, but a lot is still done by human intelligence.”
The Indian consumer
The Wellversed platform can be accessed by consumers from India, United States, Canada, and Dubai, while its own products are also distributed on other major e-commerce such as Amazon and Flipkart.
It is currently exploring going into pharmacies and supplement stores across India.
Khurma said that its products target the “mass premium” Indian consumer. He hopes that a premium positioning can help to capture consumer awareness and to eventually move down its pricing range to achieve volume.
On the firm’s focus on the Indian consumer, it said: “Since our products and brands live in the domain of food and supplements, taste does play an important role. When taste is optimized for one set of consumers, it cannot be blindly replicated to another geography. So, typically when we think about geographical expansion, we look at places where there's a high Indian diaspora with high disposable income.”
Additionally, Khurma described the Indian consumer as “experimental” to try new products, and wanting to know what is on the label in the supplements they are taking.
The trends driving the growth in India’s supplements market include 1) an increasing demand for functional food – “merger of food and supplements” – such as protein powder mixed in milk; and 2) nutrient-specific supplements accounting for nutritional deficiencies in one’s diet, such as iron, calcium, and Vitamin D.
The firm is looking to expand its wellness brand portfolio to include mental wellbeing supplements such as nootropics, personal care products, as well as biomarker monitors.