The changing taste and aspirations of the health-food lovers in India have made Lebanese and Mexican food the latest fad in the country according to Dinesh Kumar, Managing Director of health food retail chain Brown Tree.
“Initially, only the elite were interested in health foods, but due to media, the middle class is also becoming aware and willing to shift to a healthier lifestyle. In terms of taste, consumers played safe with Indian food in the beginning and then shifted to Italian food. Lebanese and Mexican food is the current fad. Consumers are always looking for new international products, instant food, organic food, etc.” he said.
Kumar further added that due to the exposure to international markets, Indian consumers are always looking out for newer, exotic products that they have tasted abroad or heard of via the media. Constant follow-up and competition with foreign trends coupled with growing awareness about the importance of eating right and staying fit are the main factors propelling the growth of health food market in the country. “We noticed that when the health benefits of products are clearly stated on the packaging, customers are more convinced to buy them,” he informed.
“Our customers would mostly be between the age group of 22 and 40 years, middle and upper-middle class women. Per visit, consumers spend approximately Rs 300-500. Dry fruits and chocolates are the most popular products and they sell the most,” Kumar revealed.
He also confirmed that on a monthly basis, the footfall recorded at an individual store of the company is about 10,000 people. Thus, the monthly footfall for all its 12 stores stands at over 1,20,000. According to him, Brown Tree has maintained over 75 percent growth rate for the past three years.
Highlighting the emerging trends in the health food market, Kumar stated: “In terms of market, India has shifted from a mostly unorganised to a more organised market. Initially, the country had very simple grocery shops but now organised, well-marketed departmental stores, supermarkets, and hypermarkets have made a big presence. The organised sector employs smart packaging and merchandising strategies, making products more appealing. When it comes to consumers, earlier fast food and junk food were a big fad, but there has been a steady shift towards health foods now.”
Kumar disclosed that the health food store chain aims to record a turnover of over Rs 15 crore this fiscal. Speaking on the expansion plans, he further added that the company opens four stores per year on an average and plans to maintain the same for the next two years. The retailer has already opened 2 outlets this financial year and would open 2 more in the coming months, to arrive at a store count of 14. Its new outlets will be opened in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Brown Tree invests around Rs 50 lakh per store and prefers premium locations on high streets to malls for opening new stores.
For marketing, the health food store chain mainly advertises in the print media, magazines, and newspapers. It also conducts PR exercises for promoting new products and services. The retailer also offers product sampling.
In three years, Brown Tree has opened 12 stores; 8 in Chennai and 4 in Bangalore. It does not follow a franchise model.