MUMBAI: Several Indian start-ups in the food and beverages sector have found that innovation, content marketing and the use of social media influencers are useful weapons in their David versus Goliath contest with established and global brands.

According to a report in the Economic Times, these young companies are beginning to chip away at the edges of giants such as Unilever and Marico with “smart marketing and innovation that millennials are willing to spend on”.

But this is not easy and, facing serious challenges with distribution and in getting their products onto the shelves, India’s consumer goods start-ups have found they have to think differently from their larger competitors.

For example, RAW Pressery, a Mumbai-based pressed juice firm, overcame its initial distribution problems by simply hiring the city’s dabbawalas to reach consumers.

Dabbawalas are famed for delivering tiffin lunchboxes to people at work and RAW Pressery tapped into their semi-formal, but highly efficient, delivery system.

“We created an entire last-mile delivery,” explained Anuj Rakyan, the company’s founder. “Dabbawalas typically handle 200,000 deliveries a day. For RAW Pressery, they had to do 50,000 deliveries in three hours,” he added.

RAW Pressery, along with Bombay Shaving Company and Veeba Foods, a New Delhi-based condiment maker, also tapped social media influencers to spark interest and conversations about their brands.

“The product led to the audience,” said Rakyan. “We identified and reached out to fitness gurus and influencers. Yoga teachers and dieticians started calling me ... I would also stand outside gyms to sell juice bottles.”

Shantanu Deshpande, CEO of Bombay Shaving Company, agreed about the usefulness of social media exposure after his company sent samples of its premium grooming products to top industry figures as well as actors and cricketers.

“Whether they used it or not we don’t know, but a lot of them tweeted about it. You have to hack your way into [the system] somehow,” he said.

Meanwhile, Siliguri-based Teabox, which ships its teas to 112 countries, found content marketing and storytelling about its products to be very effective.

“There is a lot of history when it comes to tea. So we created a lot of content around our products such as on the region, the plantation and the people surrounding it,” said Teabox founder Kaushal Dugar.

“We essentially created a form of storytelling that generated a lot of hook for us. We then used targeted searches on Google to get our first few customers.”

Sourced from Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff