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Interview 2016-09-08

No plans to get into retail space to keep sanctity of Ayurveda offerings: Samskrt CEO

Established by an ex-Merck India employee, Samskrt is the new entrant in the Ayurveda products market. It aims to tap a bigger pie in the Ayurveda products market which is estimated to reach Rs. 7,000 crore by 2020.

No plans to get into retail space to keep sanctity of Ayurveda offerings: Samskrt CEO

Mumbai-based Samskrt Ayurveda products brand was officially launched in April 2016, while the brand was already making headlines for over a year for its experienced founder.

Samskrt Ayurveda is the brainchild of Siddhartha Sengupta, an ex-employee of Merck India, who has expertise in operations, project management, strategy, sales and marketing with companies like BASF and Clarion. He served as the Managing Director at a French chemicals company, Arkema, before getting into the wellness business.

Samskrt is a new entrant into the Indian wellness space, which not only offers products but also has treatments for the ardent believers of ancient practices of Ayurveda.

“We offer first of its kind preventive and curative lifestyle for the consumers. Then, we let them go by empowering them with a tool kit to heal themselves and remain disease free for the rest of their life,” said Siddhartha Sengupta, CEO, Samskrt.

Here is what more you can learn and understand about Ayurveda products market from this newbie in the category. Edited excerpt:

What is the current market growth of Ayurveda products in India? How much growth is expected by 2020?

The market of Ayurvedic services is growing at 22 per cent while the products are leading with over 26 per cent growth rate. Ayurveda global lifestyle market estimated in 2016: $20 Bio (Indian market potential by 2020 is Rs 7000 crores) Ayurveda global market 2050: $6 Trillion, as per theEXIM Bank report.

As mentioned earlier, we started 5 months ago, although our growth is quite phenomenal which is pegged at 45 per cent in terms of number of patients and 25 per cent in terms of value. It isn’t quite right to take these figures into account at this point as we started from zero. It would make more sense to have the figures checked after April next year.

What was your motivation and purpose behind foraying into Ayurveda products’ category?

I was always keen on investing in natural products, especially for my family. After working in the corporate sector and taking several trips across the globe, it was evident that people across the world are looking for natural, clean and something which will improve their outer appearance and also cure them of their inner ailments. Also, everything is so synthetic these days that we’ve lost touch with nature completely. While nature balances everything including our health, these factors fuelled my inspiration to start Samskrt.

Is it a bootstrapped venture still or you’ve raised in the process to raise funds to scale it?

It is bootstrapped; however, we are in talks with an investing firm that is very keen on backing Samskrt as it is a first-of-its-kind venture that focuses on Preventive healthcare and not curative.

Where do you manufacture Samskrt products? What about product packaging? Have you tied up with any packaging firm?

Our medicines and oils are made by AVP Kerala and our cosmetics and health foods are made in Pune, both exclusively for Samskrt. At the moment, we have an agency that has designed our labels etc. However, due to my own creative inclinations, we have managed to arrive at quite some interesting designs for our medicines, oils and cosmetics. All of our packaging is in glass which is environmentally safe and our products look quite unique.

What kind of promotional and awareness activities have you adopted to promote your products? Which particular channel are you using to aggressively promote your brand?

We are present on popular social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. We also have an app which patients can download and also recently kick-started our PR activities to remain in news always.

The Ayurveda product’s market is full of fake products as well. What is your strategy to combat fraudulence and assure high quality product delivery?

All our products are available only on digital retail on Amazon and our signature portal. We do not intend to be in the mainstream retail where all the counterfeits normally arise from. We shall also extend our availability and presence in spas and salons in next couple of months. This will help us keep the products safe and away from being replicated. My years of experience in the corporate sectors had taught me multiple tricks of packaging, which I will incorporate into the Samskrt label.

Making and delivery of finished Ayurveda products is really high, which in turn affects the cost of finished goods. That’s why, Ayurveda products are priced a notch up in comparison with regular personal care beauty products. What is your pricing strategy to remain strong in the price sensitive Indian market?

This is probably the biggest challenge in our cosmetic products. In terms of medicines and oils, there are no issues because most medicines have self generated alcohols and the oils. They do not need preserving. However, our skin and hair care products are very unstable as an emulsion since they’re 100 per cent natural but we are the first to make a fully natural cosmetic base (many ayurvedic and herbal cosmetic companies have a chemical base), which is the first of its kind in the world. We will be the first organisation to sell a product which is so unique. We can call these ‘freshly made cosmetics’.

Elaborate on online and retail distribution of your products in India. Which medium is more suitable for your products?

We will not get into retail space. It is rather cluttered and commoditises products. As mentioned earlier, we will be available online - Amazon to begin with and on our website as well as our App. Samskrt also plans on having their products in Salons and Spas who are willing to partner with Samskrt.

What role does content play in the promotion of Ayurveda products in India?

We attempt to/plan to do so by creating and sharing good quality content which is essential to spread this awareness on all of our platforms - our website and social media. The biggest issue is Ayurveda is such a basterdised term today, anything natural is being touted as Ayurveda! People have no idea what Ayurveda really means. Very select organisations are authentic Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a lifestyle, it is about leading a life based on the biological clock; Ayurvedic medicines and oils have very strict formulations. One cannot tweak them at all; it then ceases to be called Ayurveda. ‘AYUSH’ makes sure that if you want to mention Ayurveda, the formulation of the product needs to be perfected as per the texts. Very few consumers know this. Apart from this, the consumers need to be educated and made aware of what Ayurveda really is all about. Samskrt is doing that on a daily basis and here, creating content is essential.

What kind of social media promotions or online promotional campaigns do you launch to extend the awareness among millennials.

Instagram is a good way especially with the millennials; I am not too convinced with Facebook as a platform because I think the millenials have already moved away from it. There isn’t much response to ads at all. Also for them, participative branding is the best way to get the engagement for a brand and what the brand stands for.

Define your current geographical presence and expansion plans in other untouched regions.

As for our services, we are present only in Mumbai at the moment. The products will be available on Amazon globally from October.

What are your future plans with Samskrt? Any plans to bring new innovation or product range in the near future?

Yes, of course. We will launch ‘superfoods’ which are mainly health drinks, which can be had with milk to benefit all kinds of people - kids, women and men. These are very unique Ayurvedic products formulated as per the Ayurvedic texts. The cosmetics will evolve further and we will also have a range of 100 per cent natural colour cosmetics within 2 years.

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