When Meta helped 3 young entrepreneurs build a farm-to-fork business and reach health conscious consumers across India
In 2020, three youngsters from IIT-Guwahati embarked on an entrepreneurial journey with a vision in their mind and a dream in their heart - little did they anticipate the distance they would traverse in a matter of just months. Today, they have nurtured a brand, created 1000+ jobs for farmers in 3000 villages, improved their lives in the process, and through it all created access to minimally processed and farm-fresh products for consumers.
Meet Aayushi Khandelwal (25), who with two of her co-founders started Anveshan, just three months before the pandemic hit the world. Aayushi spoke about her journey to Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Meta, for their ‘Fuel for India’ event to be held on December 15th.
Aayushi and her co-founders noticed the growing need for healthy and minimally processed food and the obvious market gap that existed within the same. While people were becoming more conscious about where their food was coming from, farmers on the other hand were finding it hard to reach their end customers. Anveshan, based out of Gurgaon, was founded to bridge this gap. From natural honey and wood-pressed oils to spices and ghee, Anveshan ensures that minimally processed, fresh, and authentic products reach people directly from farmers.
Leveraging digital to go direct to customer
What really enabled Anveshan, which follows a direct-to-customer (D2C) model and a fully traceable supply-chain, was successfully establishing their online presence to reach their end customers via digital marketing. Anveshan used personalized ads on Facebook and Instagram to acquire new customers. The result was that even during the pandemic when most big businesses were hit, Anveshan was able to acquire customers and convey the health benefits of their products to consumers.
Today, the need for digital and social media marketing is almost a no-brainer. Small businesses, in particular, find it more strategic and cost effective to directly reach their target audience with narratives that resonate with them and what better way than social media to tell great stories. According to an Emersys report, 3.2 billion people or 42% of the world population uses social media, and social media users spend at least 2 hours there on average and 80% of that time is on mobile.
Furthermore, according to a digital marketing study report cited in Webfx.com, 78% of those surveyed said a company’s social media posts influenced their purchase decisions, 74% used social media when making a purchase decision and 71% were more likely to purchase a product based on social media referrals.
Essentially digital marketing through social media platforms helps small and medium businesses clearly identify their target customers, understand them better, and build sustained relationships. It helps them be agile in their marketing strategies, stay competitive, and all in a cost-effective manner. Also, with these platforms, SMBs can combine storytelling with data driven and return on advertising spend (RoAS) focused selling strategies.
Riding on the Meta wave
For Anveshan, Meta has played an instrumental role in their growth. They use personalized ads on Facebook and Instagram to find their customers all over India who are interested in natural products, nutritious food, and a healthy lifestyle. They are also using WhatsApp for customer support. And the results are obvious. Their farm-to-fork model has seen an exponential rise - growing 30x year-on-year. In less than two years, they have set up 18 micro-processing units across the country, and have recently started shipping to the USA.
Anveshan is a striking example of Meta’s increased relevance to SMBs. Many small businesses that are just starting out set up a Facebook page and an Instagram account before they create a website and use personalized ads to reach their target audience. At a summit last month, Meta was reported to have reiterated its commitment to the small and medium businesses. According to reports quoting the company, globally more than 300 million active users had ‘liked’ or were following an active small business page on Facebook in India. More than half-a-million Indian small businesses on Instagram in India are also listing WhatsApp, phone number, or email in their bio, or encouraging potential customers to contact them directly via DM, which is indicative of how D2C businesses are using the app to reach customers directly and grow their business.
436 million people access Facebook every month in India and of these 271 million people access Facebook every day. It has also been reported that globally more than 200 million businesses, mostly small businesses, use Meta's tools to connect with customers.
For ventures like Anveshan, Meta is thus a quick pathway to a large and global marketplace.