Consumer brands must master one distribution channel: Panellists at VCCircle summit
Left to right: Soothe Healthcare's Sahil Dharia, Merhaki Foods' Ankur Goyal and Kstart's Revant Bhate

A consumer-centric approach, effective brand communication and the right distribution channels have helped emerging consumer brands make a bigger impact, said panellists at the VCCircle Consumer and E-Commerce Investment Summit 2019 on Thursday.

The panel comprised Merhaki Foods' founder and chief executive officer Ankur Goyal and Soothe Healthcare's CEO Sahil Dharia. The interaction was moderated by Kstart's partner Revant Bhate. Kstart is venture capital firm Kalaari Capital's seed-stage initiative for Indian startups.

Both the featured speakers own and operate women's wellness-related businesses and drew their insights from their experiences in this niche segment.

Dharia said that India's large population and a surge in spending power have also helped newer brands to emerge.

"India remains under-branded given the very large population. The wallet size has grown as the Indian economy doubled," Dharia said, highlighting India becoming a $2 trillion economy in 2014 from $1 trillion in 2007-08.

"Customer centricity and segmentation is very important in a country with a population of 1.3 billion," Dharia added.

The panellists also discussed the dynamics of choosing the right distribution channel besides speaking about the positives and challenges of e-commerce for new or emerging brands.

"The biggest challenge on a large e-commerce platform is finding the right point of contact,” said Goyal, who runs women’s nutrition brand &Me. “The communication process starts and ends with a bot. More importantly, entrepreneurs need to visualise the path to profitability because e-commerce or online distribution will only help in increasing the top-line with little or no boost in profitability.”

He also advised emerging brands across consumer categories to focus on mastering one distribution channel before opting for and mixing with another.

Dharia concurred with Goyal's view and cited that delivery cost would account for 30-40% in addition to the cost of sanitary napkins, a product which his company makes and sells.

"In India, e-commerce disrupted the offline and consumer companies which had trouble with last-mile connectivity. However, for a product like sanitary napkins, it may not work from a cost perspective," Dharia added.

The panellists also highlighted that e-commerce and online channels allow proper segmentation and noted the benefits as it helps connect with the right audience, which with proper consumer insights and communication can be very effective for an emerging brand.

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