Breakfast and snacks start-up brand True Elements has been able to capture a decent market share in a segment that has long been ruled by a few legacy players like Nestle, and Kellogg’s, among a few others. Available across over 80 online platforms and over 12,000 retail outlets, the brand is said to be approaching Rs 100 crore ARR and went EBITA positive last year. The brand has succeeded to gain this consumer confidence within just 7 years.
While discussing what steps the brand is taking to strengthen its position further, Puru Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO, True Elements stated, “Our efforts in product development, new category launches, expansion to over 12,000 offline stores, brand salience, and awareness anchors, demand generation initiatives, international market play- have come together to make the last 12-18 months rather rewarding for us.”
If we delve deep to understand how the brand started its journey, it began as a marketplace – thehealthyworld.in – offering distribution and aggregator services with 3,500 SKUs across 20 categories - very similar to what Healthkart is doing sans medicinal products. Along with that, it also activated these brands across corporate and consumer touchpoints to build awareness around them. However, True Elements noticed that while customers learned about the products/ brands, it actually acquired them for those brands and not for True Elements. An outcome of this was that as brand awareness grew, these brands started getting listed on other portals as well. So the customers it acquired for those brands went ahead and bought them from other points of sales eventually.
“This prodded us to introduce our own label offering the products that were already listed to ensure that we acquire more customers and retain them as well. It also pushed us to define clearly, in black-and-white, what honest and clean food could be. And that became True Elements! We are proud that True Elements has evolved into a trusted brand across channels and platforms today,” Gupta added.
This also would not have been possible if the brand had not been able to understand and cater to the rising demand for healthier food options and position itself as a 'healthy breakfast' brand, which filled a major gap in the market.
“Today, consumers are more informed and mindful of their choices and their implications- not only on their own health but also on the environment and society. Additionally, there also exists a large trust void between consumers and brands today, largely driven by convenient and false promises made by brands that now, a conscious consumer has started realizing,” Gupta explained.
Consequently, in order to bring the right products with the desired quality, the brand invests heavily in product innovation. Quite apparently, they expanded to 17 categories, 70+ products, 270+ SKUs from the earlier 13 categories, 60+ products, and 200+ SKUs.
Sustainability: A Big Differentiator
The new-age brands, including True Elements, understand that to convince a conscious consumer to buy their products and be a holistic brand, so to speak, it also needs to take into account how their products and processes are impacting the environment. Hence, the obvious need for sustainability.
“We have several initiatives and practices that align with those:
A) ‘Recycle’ our Plastic Packs: We are cognizant of plastic not being good for our planet, and therefore provide consumers with the option to return plastic packs to us in a hassle-free manner by calling our customer care number.
B) Plastic-Free Packaging: We provide plastic-free packaging options on our website for most of our products. This has seen great appreciation too.
C) Contract Farming: We recently ventured into contract farming which would help increase farmers’ income by 20 percent in addition to also improving our edge on ingredient traceability.
D) Millet Farming: We have started developing and innovating with more products around millets, making them the hero ingredient. Since millets are one of the most sustainable types of grains - they require less water, no pesticides, no fertilizers and can withstand extreme weather conditions, therefore is sustainable for the environment in the long run while also being extremely nutritious,” Gupta asserted.
Again, on the marketing front, given the need to make the consumers aware of the quality of products and the ample amount of work the company is doing under sustainability, the brand focuses on two key elements - awareness and credibility, the company stated.
“For awareness, we are investing in building brand equity and salience in addition to pure-play performance marketing. We are present across all leading e-commerce platforms and invest aggressively across asset types to keep fuelling the demand generation engine. Our most effective strategy to drive credibility is via our strong influencer base through word-of-mouth, led by our customers and experts in the space of food, nutrition and wellness, and fitness,” Gupta shared.
The company’s target audience is 25-40-year-old consumers, particularly those who are health conscious and are looking for cleaner food options.
Relying upon the brand’s R&D, it is further expanding its product portfolio into categories like dry fruits and soups, and also launching its patented product ‘Cereal Cake’. And, in terms of new geographies, the brand is said to be deepening its play in existing international markets, along with starting to serve the African market.
“Yes, we are eyeing fund infusion to the tune of Rs 75-100 crore in the short term. The money raised will be used for brand-building and expansion in both domestic and overseas markets,” Gupta stated.
With already being a strong omnichannel brand available across 80+ online platforms and over 12,000 retail outlets, it will also be using the infused funds to further deepen its retail play and reach 18,000+ category-relevant outlets in the short term.