Breakfast and snacks startup True Elements has been able to capture a decent share of the market in a segment that has long been dominated by a few legacy players like Nestlé and Kellogg’s, among a few others. Available on over 80 online platforms and over 12,000 retail outlets, the brand is reportedly approaching Rs 100 crore ARR and turned EBITA positive last year. The brand has managed to earn this consumer trust in just 7 years.
While discussing the steps taken by the brand to further strengthen its position, Puru Gupta, co-founder and CEO of True Elements, said, “Our efforts in product development, new category launches, expansion to more of 12,000 offline stores, brand awareness and awareness anchors, demand generation initiatives, international market play – have come together to make the last 12-18 months quite rewarding for us.
If we dig deeper to understand how the brand started its journey, it started as a marketplace – thehealthyworld.in – offering distribution and aggregation services with 3,500 SKUs in 20 categories – very similar to what Healthkart does without drugs . Along with this, it has also activated these brands through business and consumer touchpoints to raise awareness about them. However, True Elements noticed that even though customers had heard of the products/brands, they had in fact acquired them for those brands and not for True Elements. As a result, as brand awareness increased, these brands also began to be listed on other portals. So the customers she acquired for those brands moved on and eventually bought them from other outlets.
“This prompted us to introduce our own label offering the products already listed to ensure we acquire more customers and retain them as well. It also pushed us to define clearly, in black and white, what an honest and clean diet could be. And it became True Elements! We are proud that True Elements has become a trusted brand across all channels and platforms today,” added Gupta.
Nor would it have been possible if the brand had not been able to understand and respond to the growing demand for healthier food options and position itself as a “healthy breakfast” brand, which filled a major gap in the market.
“Consumers today are better informed and aware of their choices and their implications, not only for their own health, but also for the environment and society. Additionally, there is also a big void of trust between consumers and brands today, largely due to the convenient and false promises made by brands that a conscious consumer has begun to realize,” Gupta explained.
Therefore, in order to bring the right products with the desired quality, the brand invests heavily in product innovation. Apparently, they expanded to 17 categories, 70+ products, 270+ SKUs from the previous 13 categories, 60+ products, and 200+ SKUs.
Durability: a big differentiator
New-age brands, including True Elements, understand that in order to convince a conscious consumer to buy their products and to be a holistic brand, so to speak, they must also consider the impact of their products and processes on the environment. Hence the obvious need for sustainability.
“We have several initiatives and practices that align with these:
A) “Recycle” our plastic packs: We realize that plastic is not good for our planet and therefore offer consumers the option of returning plastic packaging to us without hassle by calling our customer service number.
B) Packaging without plastic: We offer plastic-free packaging options on our website for most of our products. This was also greatly appreciated.
C) Contract farming: We have recently ventured into contract farming, which would help increase farmers’ incomes by 20% in addition to also improving our ingredient traceability advantage.
D) Cultivation of millet: We started developing and innovating with more products around millet, making it the hero ingredient. Since millet is one of the most sustainable types of grain – it requires less water, no pesticides, no fertilizers and can withstand extreme weather conditions, so it is environmentally sustainable at long-term while being extremely nutritious,” Gupta said.
Again, marketing-wise, given the need to raise consumer awareness of product quality and the company’s significant sustainability work, the brand focuses on two key elements: reputation and credibility, the company said.
“For awareness, we invest in building brand equity and visibility in addition to pure-play performance marketing. We are present on all major e-commerce platforms and invest aggressively in all types of assets to continue fueling the demand generation engine Our most effective strategy for building credibility is through our strong base of word-of-mouth influencers, led by our customers and food experts , nutrition, wellness and fitness,” Gupta explained.
The company’s target audience is consumers between the ages of 25 and 40, particularly those who are health conscious and looking for cleaner food options.
Building on the brand’s R&D, it further expands its product portfolio into categories such as dried fruits and soups, and also launches its patented product “Cereal Cake”. And, in terms of new geographies, the brand would deepen its game in existing international markets, while starting to serve the African market.
“Yes, we are looking at an infusion of funds to the tune of Rs 75-100 crore in the short term. The money raised will be used for the creation and expansion of the brand in domestic and foreign markets,” Gupta said.
Already a powerful omnichannel brand available on over 80 online platforms and over 12,000 outlets, it will also use the infused funds to further deepen its retail game and reach over 18,000 relevant outlets in the short term.