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Building the right product!

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Retail is no more just about simple trading or about essentials. Retail is all about innovation today, it is about bringing to the market new-age products. Product development and foraying into the retail space with something unique and offbeat is the need of the hour.

Product development is a full-pronged process that completely involves delivering a new product or improving an existing one for customers. The customers and their requirement is counted in to support the development. However, products at present across categories and domains is evolving basis changing customer behaviour. This space has become even more challenging at present, given the growing number of brands making their presence felt in the market. 

Product development methodologies are used to build many new offerings. The first stage in any product development process is to identify and analyse the business opportunity — this can be how the brand serves external customers or build internal products for the organization. Before a concept moves to implementation, the brand must determine if and how it supports overall business objectives. Once the brands have a clear vision for what they want to achieve, the next step in the product development process is to define what will be built. Researching customer needs, prioritizing features, and testing concepts help you narrow in on the key capabilities that will be delivered in a new product or release.

However, the steps to push a product into the market is no more a simplified process and it involves a lot of layers and customer understanding. So, when referring to product development, brands generally take an extra effort to make the products highly innovative in order to make it appeal to a bigger audience. With innovation ruling retail, let’s look at some of the most significant and innovative product, across categories, which are stealing the show. 

Environment-friendly and trendy

Neeman’s, a homegrown, innovation-driven footwear label, from the start has been bringing innovation to every customer through its product line. Innovation through rigorous R&D has always been the driving force behind Neeman’s product offering. Since day zero, the company has worked purposefully towards the cause of sustainability and has created an eco-friendly range of shoes and slippers. In addition to the 100% recycled PET bottles, the other materials employed in the ReLive You sneakers include Plant Based Caster Bean Oil, Recycled Rubber, Co-Polymers and Organic Polyurethane material. 

Now, the brand is set to give a stylish twist to sustainability with their all new line of sneakers. The ReLive You collection, the uber-fashionable successor of the widely popular ReLive Knits, is crafted from 100% recycled PET Bottles and finished with a nuanced design language and first-of-its-kind colour story. Modishly designed with a sporty, high-street edge look, the ReLive You sneakers are comfortable, flexible and lightweight and draw inspiration from the wearer themselves. Each of the 4 styles- Beat the Blues, Brave the Night, Love the Tan and Embrace the Greys, depict a distinctive tale of the wearer’s personality. With this new collection, Neeman’s dedicates ReLive You to each person who is comfortable in their own skin and is facing the world by being uniquely them or ‘You.’ Furthermore, the bold and chic design blends letters N (denoting Neeman’s) and U (the wearer) to create a distinct pattern that connotes the connection of the brand with its customers.

On the new collection, Taran Chhabra, CEO and Founder, said, “We are excited to launch ReLive You, a notable successor of the popular ReLive Knits sneakers. On the one hand, this new collection reiterates the magnificence of individualism and, on the other, it restates our unwavering commitment to the planet and you, our customers. Furthermore, by offering sustainable and fashion-forward alternative footwear that is both comfortable and trendy, the ReLive You sneakers have a distinct design identity of high-street sensibilities while portraying different traits that every person harbours through its colours. ReLive You uses 8 recycled PET bottles for each pair as we want to stand tall at the confluence of sustainability and style.”

Why only fashion, the food category is also constantly reinventing its products and Rage Coffee is one such digitally native FMCG company that manufactures, markets & distributes innovative coffee products. The company has created craft coffee that is instantly consumable, affordable, comes in a variety of flavors – is ready to mix – and is convenient to carry sachet shots. Rage Coffee products are retailed through their own website, all leading online platforms, and 1500+ touchpoints offline PAN India through a network of distributors. Rage Coffee products are US FDA, FSSAI, ISO registered and manufactured at a GMP compliant facility.

Being a caffeine innovation brand, Rage Coffee has always been associated with the curation of product range which supersedes the segment in innovation and originality; it has always been ahead of the conventional curve. The company in the past had capitalized on the buzz of the crypto coins, now the brand is heading towards the NFT space, this time with actual Rage exclusive NFT’s.

Natural ingredients to the rescue

Brands have started focusing a lot on
ingredients derived naturally from the environment and are using these nature-based ingredients to create a strong backbone for their product range. For instance, FOREVER LIVING PRODUCTS INDIA which offers health, beauty and wellness products based on Aloe Vera recently launched products for the season AloeTurm™ and No gas Deodorant Sprays Dream by Forever for Women and Desire by Forever for Men.

Forever AloeTurm™ lozenges with Aloe Vera and Turmeric contain the world’s most natural medicinal plant extracts for various health benefits and wellness. Turmeric is a rhizome with natural antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory coupled with immunomodulatory properties. Aloe Vera is a xerophyte with antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant and immune-stimulatory actions. Together, they act synergistically with complementary mechanisms to offer health benefits that aid immunity, oral hygiene, skin health, wound-healing, pain relief and general wellbeing. These two-plant based ingredients are part of food chain and have established safety profile.

Forever AloeTurm™ is the only patented product in the world today that provides goodness of Turmeric and Aloe Vera in form of a soft mouth dissolving lozenge. This product is power packed with several medicinal benefits such as improvement in immunity, skin health, wound-healing, pain relief, maintaining oral hygiene and treatment for common cold, cough and sore throat.

Innovation has no boundaries today and extends far and wide. Let’s look at Bacardi India, the largest international spirits company in the country by volume, who has just announced  foray into the brandy and IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) category with the launch of Good Man – the company’s first-ever innovation made in India for Indian consumers. Strengthening its brown spirits play, Bacardi India is focused on disrupting the premium brandy segment by offering India’s modern-day consumers an unparalleled experience with this latest innovation. Aged for a minimum of two years in oak casks, this premium blended brandy is the perfect amalgamation of grain spirit with premium French and Indian grape brandies. 

A meticulously crafted blend of woody flavours, fruity notes of pear, apple, a rich palate of raisin, drizzled with sweet vanilla and honey, this liquid is enjoyed neat, on ice or with a mixer. Good Man celebrates the new-age consumers who seek to be the best version of themselves, enabling them to further find the courage to stay on their quest for individuality.

In a similar vein, taking its innovation beyond the existing limits, the 100% vegan and cruelty-free, homegrown personal care brand Brillare has recently launched its first exclusive retail outlets in Pacific Mall, Delhi, and VR Mall, Surat. Brillare products are currently available for customers at premium salon chains, the official Brillare website, and leading e-commerce platforms such as Nykaa, Amazon, Flipkart, Purplle and Tata Cliq. With its foray into the offline space, Brillare eyes aggressive growth by expanding its pan India presence with more than 50 offline outlets by 2022. 

Brillare’s science-backed concern-specific product range is formulated to deliver superior dermatology grade results with real natural products. It proudly upholds the mission of formulating products with zero dilution promise that suggests their products are made with zero added water, zero chemicals and zero preservatives. Some of their best selling products like Real Face Washes, Oil Shots, Power Drops, Face Toners and Ultimate Soothing Oil are available in Zero Dilution formulation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to a more virtual era and induced changes in online shopping behaviour, providing consumers with a multitude of 19,000+ e-commerce platforms to choose from. But, despite the tremendous expansion of e-commerce, India’s massive $900 billion retail business still sees the majority of purchases made offline. Several digital-first beauty and personal care firms are rapidly developing retail stores and selling through supermarkets and neighbourhood shops, recognizing the tremendous potential of the offline sales channels. As the world resumes normalcy, digital-first brands are keen to provide their customers with a one-of-a-kind brand experience through product innovation, trendy promotions, and omnichannel presence across online and offline mediums. 

Jigar Patel, CEO of Brillare, a formulation scientist, says, “The idea behind establishing Brillare was to address the real beauty concerns with science and nature and extend sustainable healing over a quick-fix approach. With the launch of our exclusive retail outlets, we hope to reinforce our commitment to providing only the finest quality products made with a blend of science and natural ingredients. We intend to increase our existing personal care portfolio and introduce innovative products with Zero Dilution formulation by 2022. Furthermore, we intend to open 50 retail outlets by 2025, as well as increase our digital footprints by penetrating Tier II areas and pursuing global expansion opportunities.”

Lending a fresh flavour

Jungles Jungles is a Global Organic Textile Standard certified brand. The GOTS certified garments are made from organic cotton with a minimum of 95% organic cotton, free from chemical intervention, and produced with ethical manufacturing practices. 

Created by Jack Ferguson, Jungles Jungles is all about reviving and reliving the 60s counterculture through subversive streetwear. After the singular ‘Jungles’ had already taken over Instagram, the brand got its name. Just as its unique name and irreverent design attitude, the designs are unique in fashion and place themselves in the streetwear position amongst fashion enthusiasts. With fresh and vibrant hues, every style is rendered in a vintage, overdyed kind of a wash giving their tees a one of a kind vintage gem feeling which is elusive or rare to find even after thrifting and rifling through second-hand stores. Every piece of clothing or accessories, be it tees, sweatpants, caps, or a hoodie, brings in something new and exciting with its graphics and prints that match this generation’s aesthetic. The Jungles Jungles collection is available exclusively in India, online at www.shopcapsul.com, and the Capsul store located at Bengaluru.

Continuing on its innovation streak, Kaya, India’s leading skincare & the largest dermatologist network enabled brand has unveiled a new identity, symbolic of a strategic realignment with its ever growing young consumer base. The new brand narrative is inspired by its young customers – Gen Zs and Millennials. The new brand vision seamlessly integrates an omnichannel experience successfully straddling the in-clinic and digital space by building experiences of the future via artificial Intelligence enabled website. Kaya advances its commitment towards ever evolving and enabling everyone to find their own beautiful. Punctuated by the brand’s new purpose fuelled mantra, “Beautiful is You”, Kaya will continue to bring alleviated personalization to help consumers discover products and services that are right for their unique selves. Beautiful is you is a choice to help you define and achieve your own best beautiful. 

The elevated digital experience is also established across marketplaces – Amazon, Nykaa, collaborations – Cult Fit, Cred and across India. The digitization mirrors offline customization via an all-new AI assessment tool on the website. The website reflects the changing expectations and aspirations of the new consumer, customized to individual needs. The new Kaya is contemporary, inviting and advanced. Speaking on the new approach, Rajiv Nair, Group CEO – Kaya said, “Kaya has always been ahead of its time and for almost two decades has been a standard-bearer for beauty and healthy skin in India. Constantly improving upon and redefining our services with our consumers are integral to Kaya’s ethos. Kaya’s community is only growing, and our goal is to meet their standards of taste, quality, and inclusivity. With Beautiful is You, we are recrafting Kaya’s brand identity, that not only upholds our legacy but also re-establishes our expert position in Indian skin culture.” 

Kaya has developed a range of more than 60 products and 600 services with the help of their expert dermatologists ranging from daily essentials to specialized ones that work across skin and hair care problems. Kaya offers personalized solutions by 140 expert dermatologists delivered through a synergistic combination of products and services backed by state-of-the-art safe skincare technologies. The new AI skin assessment led website brings the offline customized experience into an online digital format.

Continuing with the core idea of innovation and bringing finesse through every new collection, Fabindia has innovated with its new range ‘Essence’. Borrowing from its name, this collection aims at capturing every soft-furnishing need of a home, one seamless integration at a time. From bed and bath linen in solid colours to simple tableware with multifunctional pieces, down to matching table and napkin cloth – everything is affordable, easy maintenance and value for money. These products are handmade, hand-assembled and proudly Indian. This is also something that makes it ideal for a conscious modern consumer who is looking to be minimal or wants to achieve a contemporary-modern home with local and ethically sourced products. This is achieved because Fabindia brings forth a community, putting its artisans – the heart of the brand along with its discerning clientele – at the forefront. With a 61 year legacy, the brand is one of India’s largest retail platforms for a wide range of products produced by artisans living largely in rural areas. With an endeavour to blend indigenous craft techniques with contemporary designs, the objective is to offer an affordable aesthetic of handcrafted products to today’s consumers using natural materials and fibers.

Crafted using the finest quality bone china, Fabindia’s dinnerware appears dainty and delicate to the eye but are unbelievably lightweight and durable amidst the most delectable pastel hues. Completed with a gorgeous glaze that not only adorns it with beauty but also grants it undefeatable durability, Fabindia’s tableware collection remains impervious to daily wear and tear. Whether it’s the microwave heat or the daily tussle with the dishwasher, the dinnerware remains gorgeous as always and stands strong before the test of time. Whether it is a Sunday afternoon lunch with your family or an elaborate dinner party, this exquisite selection of crockery is a perfect fit for every event. The dinnerware consists of dreamy dinner plates and quarter plates, kingly katoris, suave serving bowls and perfect tea sets with tea-pots, tea-cups, mugs, saucers and more. A minimalistic range complimenting a plethora of décor combinations, Fabessetial’s table linen, curtains, bath linen, dhurries emit a modern, clean and linear appearance dipped in a myriad of colours.

‘Plant based’ to create a big difference

One of the most pioneering innovation and product development of the present is plant-based meat, milk, and other such alternative product range. The market for plant-based milk in India is estimated at $20.9 million in 2018 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20.7% to reach $63.9 million by 2024. (Source: ResearchAndMarkets.com). With the age Group 25 to 34 being the largest consumers, High awareness for plant-based milk is seen even among the non-users of the category.

To make it big in this segment, Only Earth, a brand of plant-based milk, has already been seeing a strong growth trajectory. Currently, with a portfolio consisting of Oats and Coconut Milk, they are now available at 1000+ stores in 12 cities and on major online platforms such as Amazon.  With cafes and restaurants offering vegan alternatives, Only Earth has been able to enter their kitchen as a key ingredient as well. Outlets include Starbucks, Subko Coffee, Oberoi Hotels, and more. 

Another notable brand who have recently made their future plans pronounced is Brand VegaBytz. Operated by Chennai-based Functional Foods Pvt. Ltd, VegaBytz will be launching its brand and products soon in India. The company is a pioneer in developing world-class and award winning Plant-Based 100% vegan meat products, which are currently being sold in the UK market. VegaBytz’s product range includes 100% Plant-Based vegan Meat/Chick’n/Tuna Ready-To-Eat products, which have been short-listed as the World’s Best Plant-Based Awards 2020 by Food & Bev, UK.

VegaBytz’s unique, first-of-its-kind, 100% Plant-Based vegan Meat/Chick’n/Tuna ready-to-eat meal packs and curry range are curated to meet the paradigm shift in the consumer’s ever evolving preference for a high value nutrition and help them eat smart & stay fit. VegaBytz has 10 different variety of products made from vegan meat, chick’n and tuna. These products are perfectly cooked with lemon & herbs/ BBQ/ Indian style curry and come perfected with a best sensory, taste & texture, packed in cans with a easy pull-open lid, and a ready-to-eat shelf life of a minimum of 12 months at ambient temperature. In addition to the vegan meat products, VegaBytz has also developed healthy Breakfast Cereals, Pasta/ Noodles and Snacks, all enriched with high content of 100% Plant-Based protein, high fibre, immunity with zero-carbs and no-sugar. VegaBytz’s product range also includes vegan ready-to-drink avocado drink enriched with MCTs, which provide natural instant energy and good fats. 

VegaBytz is the first brand in the world to have launched vegan Chick’n Meal range with Quinoa & Brown Rice and also the first to launch Vegan Meat balls with Spaghetti.

Further, Agromatic Foods, a food technology company has now forayed into the alternative protein segment with the launch of a new plant-based meat brand ‘Letz Vez’. The brand aligns with the company’s philosophy of offering high-quality, healthy, authentic food products to consumers that not just nourish their taste buds but also their bodies.  

In the initial phase of launch, the company has introduced six products, namely Kebabz, Keemah, Nuggetz, Pattiez, Popz, and Sausez. The entire range is vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, while being rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Unlike conventional meat products, the company claims that Letz Vez plant-based meat is completely free from trans-fats and cholesterol, making it a healthier protein alternative for everyone. Letz Vez, will cater to consumers looking for tastier and healthier protein-rich products. Considering that a large chunk of Indian population is vegetarian, Letz Vez products will help consumers to widen their options by offering them a delicious range of innovative products.

Innovation is at the heart of what the brands are resting their market strategies on and this is helping them pivot a big change. It will be interesting to see how with time new product development and innovation will further reshape and reorient the market and consumer sentiments in the time to come.