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Hair gummies, protein powders get influencer push as brands eye India’s nutraceutical market

While such brands have swamped the market, there have been many complaints about misleading promotions by influencers as well.

By  Saumya TewariMar 29, 2023 2:14 PM
Hair gummies, protein powders get influencer push as brands eye India’s nutraceutical market
Clearly, the beauty and wellness category is thriving, with new brands entering the India market. Intense competition and the need to grab consumer attention could also lead to companies making tall claims. (Representative image by Aron L via Unsplash)

Indian Instagrammers and YouTubers are busy promoting an array of skin/hair gummies, protein powders and collagen drinks. They are speaking to a young, aspirational consumer base that wants to look and feel good. Those promotions could involve anything from pushing products that promise lush hair and stronger nails to glowing skin and strong gut.

This need to look and feel good has created a huge market for beauty and wellness related dietary supplements. India, an under penetrated market, is emerging as a lucrative ground for such supplements, and wellness brands are now leveraging influencers and celebrities to flog such products.

An analysis by the International Trade Administration projects that by the end of 2025, India’s nutraceuticals market will be worth USD 18 billion, with dietary supplements accounting for 65 percent of the market

For instance, much before dietary supplement brand Power Gummies brought actor Shraddha Kapoor on as brand ambassador, it had an army of social media influencers in place, who built the brand presence across platforms. The brand, which launched in India in 2018, targets millennials and GenZ customers (18 to 35 years of age) who prioritise grooming and self-care.

Marketing push

Power Gummies is now looking beyond the metros and Tier I cities for expansion. Bringing Shraddha Kapoor on as its face is a strategic move to drive this push.

“After our influencer marketing initiatives and e-commerce boom, which has led to easy availability of our products, there is increased curiosity about our products in Tier II and III cities/towns as well. Consumers are getting conscious about looking good just like their favourite celebrities,” says Ankita Chaudhary, COO, Aesthetic Nutrition Pvt Ltd, which sells Power Gummies.

Similarly, Wellbeing Nutrition, a direct-to-consumer company that has investments from the likes of Hindustan Unilever (HUL), has launched a digital ad campaign featuring actor Dulquer Salmaan to showcase its range of products and reach a wider set of consumers. The film explains the tech behind the company’s melts range — it uses patented nano technology to convert plant based ingredients into tiny molecules, or nanoparticles.

Some of Wellbeing Nutrition’s popular products include pure marine collagen, healthy hair oral strips, apple cider vinegar effervescent tablets, and sleep aid Restful Sleep. The company says its biggest performing cities are Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, with growing demand in Tier 2 cities.

Saurabh Kapoor, co-founder & chief business officer, Wellbeing Nutrition, says that the company works with a variety of influencers, including doctors, who recommend its products.

“Our audience is Indian millennials with a growing affinity for mindfulness and natural products, who are rediscovering traditional rituals and ancient holistic wellness practices,” he notes.

Kapoor emphasises that user-generated content is also a great way to market the product. “Having influential creators that have a strong connection with their community helps build the brand in ways that traditional marketing would not be able to achieve,” he adds.

Plant-based nutrition brand OZiva, which is promoted by actor Deepika Padukone, is focused on building and promoting its omnichannel presence across the country. OZiva works with influencers who primarily talk about fitness as well as beauty & wellness.

“When we started in 2016, OZiva’s TG was slightly more skewed towards women. However, over the years, we have built a strong customer base across different age groups and genders, with products in categories such as women’s health, men’s health, plant-based vitamins and minerals, skin and hair health,” Parvathy Raja, OZiva’s brand marketing head, told Storyboard18.

She adds that the brand leverages influencer marketing to help communicate the brand story and reach out to newer audiences.

“It (influencer marketing) acts as a support channel for the larger campaign thought and helps build the narrative further. Based on the campaign, influencer marketing efficacy is tracked. It could vary from brand awareness to consideration to trials,” notes Raja.

Regulatory challenges

Clearly, the beauty and wellness category is thriving, with new brands entering the India market. Intense competition and the need to grab consumer attention could also lead to companies making tall claims. Ad industry watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which has started tracking influencer marketing guidelines violations, said that nutraceuticals are a subset of the food and beverage sector, and complaints about misleading advertising are addressed in the same manner as with any other industry.

The body has processed complaints against155 advertisements this year involving influencers who promoted goods from the nutraceutical sector between April 2022 and February 2023. Some of these violations also came from brands such as OZiva, Power Gummies, Muscle Blaze, Wellbeing Nutrition, and Fast & Up Plant Protein, among others.

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general, ASCI, notes that of the 155 complaints processed, all the advertisements needed modification, adding that “125 influencers have complied with our recommendation, and the remaining will be reported to the appropriate authority”.

“The nature of the violations in these complaints was lack of proper disclosure,” says​ Kapoor.

The government, in its new norms for influencer promotions, has already stated that social media influencers have to mandatorily disclose sponsored posts as paid content if there is a material connection between them and a brand, failing which, they can be prohibited from publishing for six months and face a penalty of Rs 10 lakh–50 lakh for a repeat offence.

Lack of proper disclosures could mislead consumers, especially younger ones who view social media influencers as a legit source of information on brands and lifestyle choices. Without a proper paid promotion disclosure by an influencer, an ad could come across as a recommendation based solely on personal experience, and mislead consumers. ASCI says that it aims to track this category closely.

First Published on Mar 29, 2023 2:14 PM