How a father's concern led HealthKart to build India's only personalized child nutrition brand - Gritzo
It is an extremely common occurrence that escapes the attention of many Indian parents and HealthKart CEO Sameer Maheshwari was no different. As a father of two — a 13-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl — he found it difficult to believe that the same health drink could fulfil both the children’s nutritional needs despite their age difference.
“Being working parents, my wife and I relied on health foods to ensure that our children got ample nutrition. But it was bewildering to know that my son was drinking the same brand of nutrition drink that I did while growing up despite leading a more active lifestyle than I did,” says Sameer.
In a market swarming with big brands and celebrity endorsements, India’s health foods space has failed to address the need for personalized nutrition for children of different ages and with varying needs and goals. The observation paved the way for a business opportunity that sat well with HealthKart’s brand vision. Soon enough, the team launched their personalized nutrition brand ‘Gritzo’ in 2020.
Envisioned as a D2C brand, Gritzo looks to bridge the gaps in the Indian nutraceuticals industry, which is expected to reach a valuation of $18 billion in 2025.
Sameer says that his team’s market research shed light on what parents were looking for in a nutrition brand which helped Gritzo refine its focus and create a drink that was more than just a flavoring agent.
Backed by more than two years of research, the team created a formula containing adequate quantities of macronutrients and micronutrients to create a customized range of products for children. The range ensures optimal levels of health indicators like height, weight, brain, energy levels, among others.
In fact, the nutritious drinks also had the approval of Sameer’s children. “They loved its rich chocolate flavour,” laughs Sameer.
Decoding the need for personalized nutrition for children
With the product ready, the team started gearing up for a market launch. However, the road ahead was riddled with several challenges. "For starters, we struggled with educating consumers who were not ready for a new-age product like Gritzo SuperMilk. Brands that have existed for the last 40-50 years offer products that usually contain artificial ingredients. We had a tough time educating the parents about the need for a customized nutrition solution for their children,” he recounts.
The team also faced the mammoth task of impressing the children, who're known for being picky eaters. “We created a range of nutrition drinks that were not only good in taste, but also did not contain any additives or refined sugar,” he adds.
Unlike several popular nutrition drinks, they don't include any malt, refined sugar, preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, trans fats and gluten.
Gritzo SuperMilk is customized for three age groups, i.e., 4-7 years, 8-12 years and 13+ years. It also offers personalized nutrition drinks crafted especially for girls. These five variants of Gritzo SuperMilk are available across most e-commerce platforms. One can find more personalized and goal-specific nutrition drinks on Gritzo.
Moreover, Gritzo’s official website features an artificial intelligence-based tool that helps parents assess their child’s body mass index. Based on the information, the tool recommends a personalized Gritzo SuperMilk and also generates a customized diet plan that addresses individual health requirements.
These products also take into account the nutritional deficiencies that are likely to occur at various stages of growth. For instance, India witnessed a protein deficiency of more than 80 percent in 2017, against the recommended consumption of 60 g a day. Also, the global average daily protein intake is 60-90 g; in India it is only 10 g. Grtizo SuperMilk ensures that children don't miss out on their growing years because of a protein deficiency.
The restrictions due to the lockdowns and the pandemic added to their woes, but the team was able to iron out the hiccups eventually.
Talking more about the brand ethos, Sameer says, "We believe that each child is unique and so are their nutritional needs. Gritzo wants to become a nutrition partner for parents while offering a scientifically tested and clean product that helps their children achieve their true potential."
Building bright futures with the child-friendly nutrition
Given how the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed health and nutrition to the forefront, the range has been instrumental in carving a niche for itself despite an uncertain business outlook.
In the short time since its launch, the company has managed a 50,000-strong clientele and is clocking a month-on-month growth rate of 20 percent. “We have been steadily acquiring new consumers every month. And, the best part is that our churn rate is extremely low,” says the IIT-Delhi and Harvard Business School alumnus.
With a successful start in its journey, Gritzo is now looking to explore new avenues of growth. "We want to educate more parents and want to extend our range to children and teenagers in the 4-17 year age group." He added that the brand has its eyes set on a target of a million plus consumer base for Gritzo.
With his experience of building a full-stack startup like HealthKart, Sameer is well-versed with the nuances of the Indian D2C market, which is estimated to reach $100 billion by 2025.
HealthKart gathers a lot of actionable insights about consumer preferences and the mined data is then used to develop products. “We applied the same principles while developing Gritzo. Even with marketing, we divided Gritzo’s potential customers into micro-segments according to their needs, like we did at HealthKart. It helped us build more targeted and effective marketing strategies.”
While entrepreneurship is not a cakewalk, it has its own joys, believes Sameer. He sees entrepreneurship as a long-term game. “You must follow your passion and try to solve a genuine need of a consumer. A company might be big or small, but if entrepreneurs are driven and follow their true passion, the sky's the limit,” he adds.