India’s SMBs Are Using The Power of Social Media To Go Direct-To-Consumer

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are enabling brands to connect with their consumers directly and expand globally

Direct to consumer’ or D2C refers to selling products directly to the consumer, bypassing all third parties including wholesalers and retailers. The direct outreach allows the business to have a one-on-one relationship with their consumers, and grow their business at an exponential rate. Powered by digital, and more specifically by Meta platforms, the engagement is often interactive and holistic, enabling businesses to serve their customers to the highest levels of satisfaction.

Here’s the story of Mr. Vijay Katta of Omay Foods, which is among the many digital-first, D2C brands that have effectively leveraged digital advertising, particularly through Facebook and Instagram. There has been a 500% growth in Omay Foods’ ad spends just during the pandemic and their Diwali sales in 2020 saw a 200% jump from the previous year. WhatsApp in particular has been a key enabler for them - 60% of their orders come directly from WhatsApp.

In 2017, Vijay quit his corporate job to start out on his own with an intent to introduce a variety of healthy and tasty ready-to-eat snacks that can be consumed all-day without having to worry about excess calories. The observation of a gap in the market, coupled with his own longing for homemade healthy snacks, made Vijay discern a huge opportunity and thus, in March 2019, Omay Foods was born.

Omay Foods is headquartered in Jaipur, with Vijay’s family with their 40+ years in the Food Processing and FMCG industry being equally involved. All the snacks are manufactured in-house making them consistent in taste, quality, and useability. They use indigenous, Rajasthani roasting processes to make snacks catering to the palate of urban Indians craving desi, healthy snacks. Since the time of its launch, the venture has shipped over 8,00,000 units.

The success of the brand encouraged Vijay to expand into the direct-to-consumer (d2C) channel and the business soon began to flourish. The homegrown company has launched operations in the UK, and will soon launch in other international markets.

No place better than digital for D2C

According to an Avendus Capital report, India has about 600 D2C brands and the sector itself is valued at over $1 billion as of the end of FY21 and expected to grow to $100 billion by 2025. Almost all of these D2C ventures such as Omay Foods rely on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to reach their customers.

Take the example of Two Brothers Organic Farms. The venture was founded by Satyajit and Ajinkya Hange - two brothers from Indapur, Maharashtra - who left their corporate job to take up their father's farm and get into the organic foods business. Their aim was clear - make locally sourced organic food from India available to the world.

Today, Two Brothers Organic Farms has customers across 48 countries and nearly 700 cities. Through Facebook and Instagram, the company was able to communicate about their organic produce to people across the world free of cost. In fact, many of the farm’s solutions and ideas were crowd-sourced from their Facebook audience. For Two Brothers, Facebook and Instagram helped cut down middlemen and go directly to the consumers, and the results are there for all to see - their revenues have grown exponentially since they started using digital in 2017, and more than 500% in just the last one year.

Another interesting D2C business that has grown on the back of social media platforms is Country Delight - a direct to home consumer brand, operating from Gurugram, Haryana. Thanks to its digital first approach, this venture has grown to be a Rs 600 crore powerhouse. From geographical expansion to customer acquisition, the company was able to scale up in multiple ways through Facebook.

According to a Facebook-commissioned survey by IPSOS, 86% of those surveyed in India said that social media had allowed them to interact more and deepen their relationship with brands in 2020. Also, a Facebook-commissioned online survey with GFK showed that 96% of the surveyed people said that they discovered brands and products online. Further, 83%, who discovered new brands or products online typically discovered them on a Facebook platform and 96% of those who discovered apparel, beauty, furniture, or consumer electronics on the Facebook apps ultimately made a purchase.

Looks like for now there’s no stopping D2C brands on their digital growth ride.


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