The world is a stage for India’s new, bold D2C brands


It’s not just during the Commonwealth Games that Indians are creating noise on the global scale. Domestically-produced direct-to-consumer brands that are just two years old, such as Mensa Brands, are shifting various levers to help fuel their global goals.

Making an international audience enthusiastic about tea, samosas and other handicrafts made from India could be simple however there’s very little in the way of brands that are that are associated with these well-known Indian exports.

However there is a growing number of direct-to-consumer, digital-first brands — including roll-up ecommerce company Mensa Brands, the beauty and personal care brand Plum Goodness, and Samosa Singh–is pushing for the change.

These local brands aren’t only targeted at those in the Indian diaspora. They’re making inroads into big retail chains as well as online marketplaces, and selling their own websites for a wide public.

“We would like to develop international brands that are with Indian origin. Therefore, we will eventually look to introduce all of our brands to world marketplaces,” Ananth NarayananCEO and the founder of Mensa Brands, tells Economic Pitch. “To become a household brand with a global presence is crucial.”

Mensa is the fastest-growing startup from India to attain the status of unicorn has a lot of faith in reaching international audiences through its lifestyle portfolio, which includes ethnic fashion brand Karagiri and jewelry brand Priyaasi, fashion jewellery Priyaasi and the decor brand Folkulture and fragrance label Villain.

The one-year-old “houses of brands’ company has already sold some of its items in the US and the UK and Canada, the UAE, Canada, Germany and Singapore. Ananth claims that 20-30% of the company’s total revenues are derived through international transactions.

“We are considering a different approach to branding process, and we are doing it on an individual level, not as one brand. This allows for economies of scope in terms of size and scope” Ananth says. Ananth.

International sales can increase the potential market for a brand as per Bala SardaCEO of specialty tea brand VAHDAM India. This gives investors confidence that the brand will grow and reproduce its initial success across other markets.

D2C brands also experience the value of orders increase up to 20-30% on markets outside of the US however the cost for acquiring customers is more expensive than the market in which they operate. The development of customer loyalty and repeat purchases are crucial to maximize the value of costs for customer acquisition.

Vahdam India, which has targeted markets outside of India since the year 2015, is able to earn almost 90% of its revenue coming from other countries than India. Indian snacks too are getting a lot of attention and samosas have become a hit enough across the US for stores like Trader Joe’s to have their own private brands in the frozen food segment.

Profiting from that, the fast-service restaurant brand Samosa Singh is planning an international expansion in the coming year, under the category of frozen food beginning with. At first Samosa Singh is looking at collaborations with retailers in North American markets.

“Indian foods like samosa, gulab Jamun, and panipuri do not require an introduction to the world public. It’s time for startups and established brands make a name for themselves in the world, which only a few snack businesses from India have achieved,” says Nidhi Singh co-founder of Samosa Singh.

An enabler ecosystem

What has most definitely helped domestic D2C companies cash in on the worldwide search for products that are niche is an improved infrastructure for enabling, which includes logistics and distribution partners, payment service providers, and organizations that help with compliance and regulation.

Keren LevyPresident and General Managerof merchant services at American financial services firm Payoneer claims that D2C brands that originate from India are maturing to decrease dependence on marketplaces in order to bring them to global markets.

The company has a relationship with more than 400 000 merchants as well as small and medium-sized enterprises in India and assists them in selling across 200 nations and trade across 150 currencies.

“Once you have figured out the how to handle demand and logistics it is possible to market your business to potential buyers across Europe, the US as well as Europe,” says Keren. “This is the time to truly establish your own business independent of marketplaces. This is the main trend we’re witnessing… This is the reason why Payoneer is unique about India and distinct from other countries in which Payoneer provides services.”

Bharati BalakrishnanCountry Head and Director of Shopify India, says Indian D2C brands are able to approach cross-border sales with an omnichannel model.

Indian D2C-based brands, powered by Shopify such as boAt lifestyle Sugar Cosmetics, Wow Cosmetics along with Vahdam Teas, follow an Omnichannel strategy. They sell their products through the websites of their respective brands, on stores that carry multiple brands, and in physical stores.

“Typically generally India, D2C brands take the approach of ‘own-website-first’ instead of ‘own-website-only’ which is not the case those in North America. D2C-first companies will begin their journey with their own website and then expand quickly to other channels that their customers are searching at them.” Bharati says. Bharati.

Logistics company Shiprocket has also revealed its new service for cross-border shipping, ShipRocket X earlier in the year, providing documents and tracking services for companies looking to ship internationally.

For those categories that require certification and conformity with specific country regulations, like cosmetics and food, a variety of Indian consultants help companies become compliant with regulations.

“We began working with a consultant to help us launch our global business. They can assist with demands that are often difficult for entrepreneurs to keep track of like the layout of factories,” says Nidhi of Samosa Singh.

The beauty label Plum Goodness opted to sell through Amazon because of the same reason. “We began by using Amazon specifically for US since it is in charge of taxes, regulations, distribution, and other procedures,” says Founder Shankar Prasad.

Global opportunity

This North American market is a important area for D2C brands and accounts for the bulk of the worldwide market. D2C eCommerce revenue in US have tripled to $36.08 billion during 2016 and will reach $128.33 billion in 2021 according to a report from market research firm eMarketer.

Comparatively, the global direct-selling market was worth $189.71 billion as of 2021 according to a report from Grand View Research, and is expected to expand by a compounded annual rate of 6.1 percent from 2022 until 2028.

In India there is a market D2C brands is anticipated to increase to $ 60 billion before 2027 from the $12 billion that was in 2022, according to the India D2C Report 2022 published in 2022 by CII along with Shiprocket.

Grand View Research added in its report that the growth of this sector was primarily due to the increasing demand of consumers to test a product, and also by the development of innovative business models that resulted in to an increase of D2C distributors.

Asia-Pacific was the leading region in total sales by 2021, with more than 45percent of market share. This presents opportunities for both domestic and cross-border sales of Indian D2C companies.

Omnichannel approach

In addition to different pieces of the puzzle that cross-border commerce is a part of, roll-up models like Mensa Brands, GlobalBees as well as UpScalio allow easy for portfolio companies to be able to tap into the world market. It’s easier for rolling-up model models to agree on rates through marketplaces and partner networks and thereby facilitating scaling international brands.

“Mensa utilizes a blend of factors across product pricing marketing, distribution and building brand and collaborates with partners to speed up growth in both the marketplaces and D2C channels both in India as well as globally,” says Ananth. “We also utilize technology to improve the management of inventory, warehousing and supply chain management demand, growth hacking and demand through globalization.”

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The way to take brand internationally is different in the ecommerce market, which eases the burden of shipping as well as taxes. Online sales can, however, assist companies with information on the people who are buying and with higher profits.

Mensa’s portfolio of brands Karagiri sells internationally in the Indian diaspora through its website, while the fragrance brand Villain is available in large part offline to buyers within Middle East. Middle East.

UpScalio introduced its range of accessory and electronics manufacturers Tizum, Aircase, Gizga and Polestar along with office furniture manufacturer Green Soul Ergonomics to the US as well as in the Middle East earlier this year.

“We have been promoting the brand through market channels to establish confidence in the brand’s reputation through the market,” says Gautam Kshatriya who is the CEO and Co-founder. “Amazon is a reputable brand and is a trusted brand in both the US as well as in the Middle East, and we’re using their influence to provide services to international customers.”

Bala from Vahdam India has observed the omnichannel route working well for his business.

“The future of the domestic as well as cross-border markets is multichannel. It’s specific to the stage, category as well as the loan-to-value ratio for the product type, and other elements,” he says. “We began to target the US market with our products on Amazon and our own website as well as Walmart. Just 5% of all groceries purchased in the US occur on the internet,” he adds.

Thus it is in the case of D2C brand owners, an omnichannel approach including collaboration with retailers that are offline is essential to achieve growth in markets other than India.

Leverage and the challenges

The main reason brands are aiming for international markets is growing the average order value, as plus higher margins that brands can earn when for selling internationally.

“The average value of an order is higher for a brand when they’re selling into markets that are not India,” says Saahil Goel, the CEO and founder of Shiprocket. “The two aspects of moving to a cross-border market are the steps to take to get it to the right location and also where the company want to sell it, whether on Shopify or its own platform, or on marketplaces such as Amazon as well as Lazada.”

While cross-border efforts by local D2C brands are likely to increase however, the industry within which they operate is crucial for international expansion.

“There is a plethora of personal care and beauty brands around the world, and it’s an industry-wide challenge. (But) Ayurveda-based brands is more appealing and is not replicable worldwide,” says Shankar of Plum Goodness.

With market signals being set and the an interest in D2C brands is at an all-time high thanks to viral and social media, analysts claim Indian brand names have never before had this strong chance of becoming big internationally.

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