VAHDAM India is a vertically integrated brand that is taking forward the age-old legacy of Indian teas and spices and placing it on the global stage while simultaneously disrupting the traditional supply chain.
Started with a simple vision of taking India’s finest teas and spices to the world, Bala Sarda, Founder and CEO, VAHDAM India very early on his journey realized that the coveted teas and spices were being sold across the world by non-Indian brands. “Consumers globally were getting products far less superior to the ones available in India, thus we saw a wide space to create a brand which is differentiated. Moreover, in every market, there is always high trust with origin products, and we wanted to create an impact for people here in the value chain,” said Sarda.
With over 3 million consumers in more than 130 countries, VAHDAM India has been accepted by consumers globally, owing to the considerable market gap and the market size of tea and spices as a category, however, the brand believes it is still in its nascent stage.
In an attempt to take the best of India forward, the brand is all set to introduce VAHDAM Spices in the next 2 to 3 quarters. The brand will start small, launching a few top-selling spices in order to identify its winners, and the right strategy and will eventually scale up.
Although VAHDAM started with online channels including its website and other marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart, as of today the brand is moving to become omnichannel, expanding its offline presence. It has a presence in a few thousand stores across the US, Canada, and the UK while having distribution partners across 30 countries that import VAHDAM teas and distribute them locally.
Given the limited bandwidth and resources, VAHDAM is available in India primarily through online channels. “From an India angle, we hope to scale up our presence over the next few quarters. Our consumers might witness our own experience centers around the next year,” asserted Bala Sarda.
Betting Big on D2C
As a young brand VAHDAM opted to go through the online route finding it relatively easier to break through and differentiate.
“We as a brand have a lot of story behind it moreover, we try to make it as a high engagement purchase thus online helps us with that opportunity to communicate that story extremely well versus offline where you have to rely on your packaging to say that story,” added Sarda.
Thus, the brand believes that D2C comes with numerous benefits unlike offline where one needs to go to a certain region with a limited set of SKUs and undergo a high gestation period. Further D2C allows brands to identify what is working with the customers at a much lower cost allowing them to scale up at a faster pace.
Stating to have one of the most simple and straightforward marketing strategies, VAHDAM India believes in distributing the samples to the consumers. Moreover, the brand believes the product is everything and narrates the brand’s story through its packaging.
“Our strategy has always revolved around sampling our product to the people and right from Oprah to Ellen to all celebrities, it all happened because they tried the product and fell in love with it. Moreover, we recently were on Koffee with Karan as well and most of these endorsements have come our way owing to the aggressive sampling we have been doing for our brand because we believe in our product,” added Bala.
VAHDAM India thus spends time aggressively setting up its supply chain while working on the product packaging which then boosts the brand’s confidence in its product aiding them to evolve.
“Your product is your biggest marketing tool and that is exactly what we have done, while we amplify this across media, social media, and other tools, collaborations such as the one with Bira help us connect with our audience,” added Sarda.
Collaborations with brands and media, celebrity endorsements, and others who have a community or a following have aided the brand’s marketing.
Technology and VAHDAM India
Being an e-commerce company, technology is central to everything VAHDAM does. Everything around its operations, sales, and marketing is driven by technology.
“From a specific point of view for our e-commerce, we use Shopify. We host all our global stores on the Shopify enterprise platform within which we partner with over 15-20 apps for multiple different purposes including data, data analysis, customer understanding, cohort management, remarketing, shipping, logistics, finance, taxation so on and so forth,” asserted Sarda.
The brand further uses numerous applications to collate information from different marketplaces, and will also be onboarding the SAP platform to integrate its end-to-end operations, and supply chain procurement processes with technology.
Growth and Funding
In 2021, VAHDAM India procured Rs 174 crore in its series D funding round and has no plans to raise any new funds. It is currently focused on building the brand further and upscaling its business.
Growing in the high double-digit number as a CAGR for the last few years, the brand is confident about its future growth. According to Sarda, the brand is planning to penetrate deeper into the core markets including Europe and India acquiring more consumers while going omnichannel and tapping into other channels of retail.
In order to grow the business, it is also testing out newer categories that will be complementary to its tea business and further aiding revenue growth.
VAHDAM will be venturing into a new category of spices which will be launched only in the global market, specifically in the States and Europe. “Given the market sentiment, we will take a call deciding our next step,” said Sarda.
With its current focus to grow as a business and keeping its fundamentals intact, VAHDAM India aims to build more awareness about the brand in the key markets while looking for new triggers of growth around the said categories.