Youth and millennials form the prime focus of the typical Indian consumer market, while the elderly population remains unacknowledged and underserved despite being a huge chunk of the overall population. A thorough research on the consumption patterns of seniors in India revealed interesting psychographic shifts. Today, this consumer segment not only has greater disposable income, but also more willingness to spend on themselves.
Seniority was started to address these gaps and become the one-stop destination for senior citizens for their medical, lifestyle and gifting needs. For the first three months, we experimented with various versions of the business proposition, got together vendors and employees, met industry leaders for their feedback and tried making the first few sales. We focused on doing a diligent market research, so that we could learn from them and implement those in our business processes.
Another major challenge we faced was the degree of awareness, or sometimes the lack of it, when it comes to a category like senior care. There were no players addressing the lifestyle and medical products needs of seniors and their caregivers. Consequently, it was challenging to find the right channels to get the brand's message across. There was no playbook for a brand like ours, that is an amalgamation of different categories, serving a gap which was never looked at before and creating a new category altogether. Hence there was a lot of piloting involved and even till date, we are still going great depths to learn and understand what works and what doesn’t. In an exclusive conversation with Tapan Mishra and Ayush Agrawal more details were shared.
Kindly shed light on your entrepreneurial journey?
Three years ago, RPG Ventures, the venture capital arm of the RPG Group, was keen to explore an innovative concept especially for senior citizens in India. We went all out with our research and discovered that senior care was an underexplored category in India.
Ayush had been managing marketing, sales and product development at RPG Group’s CEAT Specialty and wanted to do something out of his comfort zone. As a part of ‘Unleash’, an internal entrepreneurship development program, he was chosen to lead the new venture for senior citizens. Since operations and logistics are what truly define an e-commerce company, Tapan, who was then heading Operations for VoxPop Clothing and brought extensive experience in those domains, was on-boarded to be Co-founder of Seniority. It seemed like a natural fit and things fell in place
What is your assessment about current elderly care market in India?
A recently released CII report pegs the medical and lifestyle market for the economically independent senior urban population at about ₹43,000 crore. According to the Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly people in India, and the number is expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. India’s population is growing 2% year-on-year, but the 60+ age group is actually growing at 4% year-on-year. Organizations across varied sectors are launching products & services tailored according to the needs of the elderly, since they are realizing the lucrative business opportunities that exist within this consumer group.
According to you, what are the factors that can propel growth in this segment?
There is greater level of self-awareness and tech savviness among seniors today. They have wider access to social media, online shopping, market developments, lifestyle changes, etc. which has empowered them to live an enhanced life. Moreover, the rise in ‘empty nest syndrome’ has fueled their independence, making it imperative for brands to cater to this largely untapped consumer segment. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more people above 60 years of age than below 15 years of age.
What is your distribution like in the online as well as offline space? Going forward, what are the plans to scale up the distribution?
We started off the business as an omnichannel platform, with the idea of having a robust online website and a chain of offline retail stores across the country. However, we quickly realized that our shopper profile, largely senior citizens, was quite comfortable shopping online. This gave us the confidence to convert into an online-first model, with innovative and inventive concepts on the offline front.
We thus began concentrating on our experience zone in Pune, which was a row house converted into a store, with lots of open spaces for us to host people over our community building initiatives. Our other stores in Coimbatore, Bhiwadi and Chennai operate in different retail formats with community centers and marketing partners who can help scale our business to the next level. Having reached great scale in our online business, with over 2000 orders being processed daily, we now aim to bring the focus back to our offline expansion strategies. This year, we are keen to experiment with franchise stores across top cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, etc. We have been in talks with a few prospects and are evaluating them thoroughly. We will soon begin with a pilot and scale it further depending on the feasibility.
Needless to say, being an e-commerce brand, we will continue to strengthen our portfolio and add innovative products which can help make lives easier for seniors and their caregivers.
Who is your competition?
We have had the first mover advantage all along and we don’t have any competitors at the same scale as yet. However, we do firmly believe that our level of curation basis the feedback of our customers, backed by unparalleled customer service has helped us achieve the position we are at today.
Are you backed by any VC or PE?
Seniority started with a $1 million seed funding and later raised $5 million over two rounds of funding from RPG Ventures.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans.
Seniority has a vision of becoming the one-stop shop for all medical, lifestyle and gifting needs of seniors and their caregivers. We are betting big on our app launch for a seamless shopping experience as well as our private label brand, consisting of thoughtfully crafted and quality assured products to fulfil every need.
While we have forged exclusive partnerships with renowned global brands, we are also keen to add to this portfolio to bring top-class engineered products to consumers. We are also mulling designing and manufacturing our own range of products and are setting up our own R&D team in place. We launched the DISC Challenge - Design Innovation for Senior Care - in association with Indian School of Design & Innovation on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons 2018. It is the first of its kind challenge in India – aimed to inspire design students to create solutions that align with the narrative of seniors today, recognizing their evolving needs for solutions that are reflective of their contexts and realities. We have a strong focus on our community engagement initiatives and will continue to harness the power of such events with our customers across the country.