[TechSparks 2020] Mamaearth, Wakefit and Lifelong founders reveal the secrets behind building a successful D2C brand
The Internet economy and popularity of ecommerce in India have brought to the fore Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands that have eliminated middlemen and are reaching customers directly.
D2C brands such as Mamaearth, Wakefit, and Lifelong have made hundreds of crores in a matter of a few years and have become household names. This is an impressive feat, considering the presence of large, legacy brands competing in the personal care, home furnishing, and consumer durables sectors.
At a live roundtable chat on creating purposeful brands at YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks 2020, the founders of Mamaearth, Wakefit, and Lifelong came together to explain how actively listening to consumers plays a vital role in building a successful D2C brand.
Sakshi Chopra, Principal, Sequoia Capital India (top left) in conversation with Lifelong cofounder Bharat Kalia (top right), Wakefit founder Ankit Garg (bottom right) and Mamaearth cofounder Varun Alagh (bottom left)
Ankit Garg, Founder, Wakefit; Varun Alagh, Co-founder, Mamaearth; and Bharat Kalia, Co-founder, Lifelong told moderator Sakshi Chopra, Principal, Sequoia Capital India, that actively listening to customer feedback has helped them quickly scale their brands.
“At Mamaearth, we listened to our consumers to know what they wanted and based our innovation and cross-category product development on their feedback. The idea was to help entire families use personal care products from one brand for a range of applications,” said Varun Alagh, Co-founder, Mamaearth.
“We built a product portfolio of safe, toxin-free 130 products that are all based on this customer-centric approach. And we also ensure to test each batch of product before it goes out," he added.
This method has clearly worked for Mamaearth. The brand was started in 2016 and crossed the Rs 100 crore turnover mark after just four years. Mamaearth also became Asia’s first brand to get the MadeSafe certification for its toxin-free products.
Ghazal Alagh and Varun Alagh, cofounders, Mamaearth
Wakefit and Lifelong's success
Wakefit’s rise has been equally meteoric. Also started in 2016, the D2C startup began by offering premium mattresses at affordable prices. In just three years, the startup generated revenues of Rs 81 crore. It is targeting revenue of Rs 200 crore this year and is aiming for Rs 450 crore by 2021.
Wakefit’s diversification beyond mattresses began when founder Ankit Garg started listening to customer demand. Based on what customers were saying, the startup ventured into sleep accessories such as back pillows, neck support pillows, and comforters.
To capitalise on the work from home culture — in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — Wakefit also launched a range of furniture such as work desks, wardrobes, office tables, bookshelves, wall shelves, sofas, TV units, and shoe racks.
At the live roundtable, Ankit said, “We listen to around 2,500 customer calls every day. Our people — senior leadership included — make it a point to listen in and understand what consumers are saying. This has helped determine packaging standards, delivery process, product innovation, troubleshooting, and a lot more.”
Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founders of Wakefit
Consumer durables D2C brand Lifelong, started in 2015, also listens to a large number of customer calls each day. Co-founder Bharat Kalia — claiming the startup hears 500-600 customer calls per day — said the approach helps the team cater to audiences in Tier-II and III markets in India.
“Our lean D2C model helps bring down our price points and offers honest, home appliances and products to Tier- II and Tier- III customers. Over 72 percent of sales come from these markets. By listening to our customers and selling at affordable rates, we are building trust despite the presence of legacy brands across categories that we service,” he said.
Lifelong’s customer service, which operates in 78 languages, and its international standards for product testing, have played a major role in building the brand’s popularity across its website and on Amazon, Flipkart, and Udaan.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.