We hope to bring about a change in the way ‘clean nutrition’ is perceived in the country: Aarti Gill of OZiva
- OZiva, an active plant-based nutrition brand, has already crossed an annual revenue run rate of Rs 100 crore.
- We speak to
Aarti Gill, Co-founder, OZiva to find out what has worked in the company's favour, goals for this year and how can brands help to improve the state of nutrition in India through advertising and marketing.
Telling us how the brand has tweaked its marketing strategy to spread more awareness around the importance of nutrition during COVID, Aarti Gill, Co-founder, OZiva said, “We have been concentrating on introducing products that meet the need of the hour. Immunity being the biggest concern for consumers across the country, we have introduced plant-based OZiva Bettr.C+ which contains plant-based vitamin C that can help support your immunity. Our entire range of plant-based vitamins and minerals are focussed on building immunity and providing holistic nutrition. We all are going through difficult times and we believe it’s more important than ever to take charge of your health. Through our content, we are aiming to provide helpful and relevant information through experts (for eg: breathing exercises for better lung capacity, Yoga Asanas that can help strengthen our immune system, etc.)”
OZiva has also roped in Deepika Padukone as its brand ambassador this year. According to Duff & Phelps, with a value of $50.4 million, Padukone is the fifth most-loved celebrity in India. The actress usually is said to charge around Rs 8 crore for a 3 day long ad shoot.
“Deepika Padukone is the perfect embodiment of our values of striving to be better in every way and adopting a holistic approach towards overall health, physically and mentally. Our philosophy of ‘ har tarah se a better you’ resonates well with Deepika who has been extremely vocal about balancing physical and mental health. It is important to have clean nutrition along with maintaining physical health and mental wellbeing. And this association is the next pivotal step in our efforts to spearhead a national health revolution,” said Gill.
An ASSOCHAM report released in 2018 predicted that the Indian nutraceuticals market is expected to grow from $4 billion in 2017 to $18 billion in 2025.
It is due to this growing demand for nutrition-based products that OZiva has hit the Rs 100 crore revenue mark.
Spilling the secret sauce that has helped in its success, Gill said, “While our goal was quite well-defined - it took us sometime to figure out the right business model in this space. I believe the first 2-3 years were like a learning experience where we tried out multiple things and failed at most of them. But those years were laying the foundation of where we are today. There are multiple reasons that have helped us grow like having the right team, investing in R&D (a must in the consumer health segment) and most importantly listening to the consumers. If your offering can manage to solve a problem or makes someone’s life easier, then you definitely have the potential to grow leaps and bounds.”
State of nutrition in India
Nutrition can be used as a yardstick to measure a country’s overall development and progress. However, the United Nations ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report highlights how there are 189.2 million undernourished people in India. It also said that our country is likely to miss the 2025 global nutrition targets.
OZiva is the first nutrition brand in India to be certified clean and receive the Purity Award and Pesticide Free certificate from the US-based Clean Label Project. Gill claims that only about 100 brands across the world out of more than 10,000 brands that CLP has tested so far, have passed the criteria for Purity Award.
It is only in 2021 that we finally have a start-up that is considered clean and pure in India’s nutraceuticals market as per global standards, which reflects how poor the state of the industry is and why quality control is one of the major concerns plaguing the health and nutrition vertical.
Telling us why other Indian nutraceutical brands and conglomerates have failed to provide pure products so far, Gill said, “The market in India is replete with numerous companies selling dubious products with low-quality ingredients. It is true that being the first and foremost brand in India to be certified clean, pure and free from pesticides is both gladdening and sad at the same time. A lot of companies also seek to benefit from the low levels of consumer awareness and knowledge in terms of ingredient quality and their sourcing. Another reason is that many low quality or unhealthy ingredients don’t affect the body immediately but turn harmful to the body over a period of time. For eg., certain artificial sweeteners that are used in certain foods can be harmful to the body if consumed for a long period of time. So consumers sometimes oversee these factors or think it might not cause enough harm. Hence companies continue to use such unhealthy ingredients in their products. The guidelines for clean labelling is still in its nascent stage in India which has further made it easier for companies to take undue advantage of the same. By raising the benchmarks for purity in India, we hope to bring about a change in the way ‘clean nutrition’ is perceived in the country.”
To improve the state of the nutrition industry further, Gill said that consumers should be encouraged to ask the right questions around the food label, ingredients -- leaving brands with no choice but to step up.
“We also need to raise the benchmark of quality. FSSAI or Ayush license is just the first step for any food and nutrition brand. It’s important to analyse various quality parameters such as heavy metals, toxicity etc to ensure the products meet the global standards of purity. We need to also invest in upgrading the testing machines. When we were going for Clean Label certification, we realized many parameters in India are tested on parts per million whereas the global standard is testing on parts per billion. We had to send our test samples to Germany and the US to ensure our products meet the testing standards defined on a global level. If we are able to take the necessary steps in the above direction, our future generations will be eating far more cleaner products than we are,” said Gill.
There's a lack of awareness and understanding in India when it comes to getting the right nutrition from food, especially among women. According to the National Family Health Survey 2019-20, in most states and union territories of India, more than half the children and women are anemic.
However, after COVID, people are becoming more conscious as they are considering their daily lifestyle and taking a more holistic approach by purchasing items that might help strengthen the immune system naturally.
Gill told us how OZiva is educating consumers about getting the right nutrition through its marketing and advertising channels.
She shared, “Our brand’s purpose is to empower consumers with the right information and right nutrition so that they can lead a clean, holistic life. Our communication, hence emphasizes on providing information backed with research and data. For eg: Vitamins and Minerals are an extremely huge category in India. However, most of the supplements available in the market are synthetically produced. Plant-based vitamins and minerals provide better absorption compared to synthetic counterparts and hence is highly recommended. There are multiple research papers that support this finding. Our range of ‘Bettr’ vitamins and minerals are 100% plant-based that provides consumers maximum goodness from consumption of the same. Our communication around this series focuses on the importance and relevance of better absorption and how it is beneficial to the body. We believe that with the right information, we will be able to help consumers slowly and steadily move to a healthier lifestyle.”
Vision for the brand
“Being a clean, plant-based nutrition company has worked in OZiva’s favour. We have seen a 4X growth in the last 12 months which is driven by more and more consumers adopting a holistic and clean lifestyle. Clean, plant-based nutrition offers complete wellbeing and multiple benefits like better immunity and overall fitness. We expect continued growth for plant-based nutrition and products in the coming months too as I feel it's now time that people realize clean products are not a good to have but an important part of our daily lifestyle. We are aiming for 3-4X growth this FY too,” said Gill
Gill also told us that the company started with a vision to empower 100 million people to be healthier and better. Now, it is investing in Health 2.0, which is driven by a more proactive consumer who takes control of their health and wellness decisions. This could eventually bring down the healthcare cost and create a positive impact on the society.