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India Has Less Than 5% Penetration In Adult Nutrition: Aarti Gill, OZiva

Know how Aarti Gill, the co-founder & CEO of OZiva, transformed nutrition, pioneering plant-based innovation for a healthier India

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In a tête-à-tête with Aarti Gill, the co-founder & CEO of OZiva, we discover about her journey of pioneering a holistic approach to wellness and preventive healthcare. From addressing dietary challenges to redefining the supplement industry, Aarti shares the driving force behind Oziva's commitment to innovation and customer well-being. Discover how OZiva is transforming the wellness landscape and raising awareness about the importance of balanced nutrition in India.
What steps did you take to address the dietary challenges you identified, such as protein deficiencies and micronutrient deficits?

What got my interest was the concept of preventive healthcare as opposed to curative healthcare. I wanted to contribute to the field of preventive healthcare and overall wellness. In 2013, we initiated a model focused on diet consultation and consultation services. We provided online coaching, covering areas such as nutrition and marathon training.

While operating this business, it became clear that the model wasn't scalable. We realised that while this approach worked well in Western economies, India required a different approach.

One crucial realisation was that wellness comprises three core pillars: diet, exercise, and mental health. While we were offering diet and nutrition consultations, we found that people struggled to make dietary changes, even when advised to do so.

What inspired OZiva to prioritise deriving essential nutrients like iron and zinc from plant sources while emphasising bioavailability in your wellness products?
We discovered that 70 per cent of individuals had deficiencies in protein intake, and many lacked essential micronutrients. We also observed a significant number of women facing issues like PCOD and thyroid disorders, which are primarily lifestyle-related health concerns.

In OZiva, we recognised that there hasn't been much innovation in the over-the-counter (OTC) segment of wellness. While pharmaceutical companies have made significant strides in drug discovery, especially in critical areas like cancer treatment, there seemed to be a lack of innovation in the field of holistic wellness. Coming from a background where my parents were involved in "Know Your Doctors," I realised that there was disconnect in terms of nutrients and innovation.

So, we decided to focus on innovation, and that's where "O" in OZiva stands for originality. We felt the need to address what was missing in the industry. Most of the vitamin and mineral supplements available in the market are derived from petrochemical sources. Our approach was different. We wanted to explore how we could derive essential nutrients like iron and zinc from plant sources, emphasising bioavailability. It's not just about consuming these nutrients; it's about ensuring they are effectively absorbed by your body.

In the wellness space, we've been having scientific and research-driven conversations that are quite rewarding. When we communicate with our counterparts and partners in the United States, they quickly grasp the importance of bioavailability.

How do you identify these opportunities for holistic innovation in the wellness industry?

It involves a significant amount of work to extract micronutrients from plant sources. We invest a lot of effort in this process. Once we are confident that we have a formulation derived from natural plant sources and it demonstrates high efficacy, that's when we introduce it to the market.

However, our journey always begins with assessing the opportunity to innovate. If we don't see room for innovation, we choose not to enter that space. Let me give you another example.

We have a product, which focuses on bone health. When you think about bone health, calcium often comes to mind, right? Calcium is indeed important, but it's not the only factor. We also incorporate vitamin D for better calcium absorption.

But here's the thing: in a woman's body, from puberty to menopause, there are numerous cyclical hormonal changes, particularly related to estrogen levels. If a woman's estrogen levels aren't balanced, calcium alone won't provide a complete solution. So, we introduced our product as a holistic solution, serving as a one-stop solution for calcium while also addressing the need to improve estrogen balance. It's a comprehensive approach.

Can you share some specific strategies or initiatives OZiva plans to implement to raise awareness and educate consumers about the benefits of balanced nutrition?

Certainly, building brand loyalty and maintaining strong customer relationships in a market flooded with products is a challenge. At OZiva, our approach revolves around customer engagement and education. When we connect with consumers, we emphasise the importance of cleaner, plant-based, and natural solutions that are also highly effective. This approach helps consumers perceive us as a brand that prioritises their well-being.

However, it's essential to acknowledge that there's room for more brands in this category. Currently, India has less than 5 per cent penetration in adult nutrition whereas products like face wash have a much higher penetration rate at around 35 per cent. To foster category growth, it's crucial for multiple brands to enter the market and educate consumers about the benefits of holistic nutrition. Competition is beneficial because it provides consumers with more options and encourages brands to excel in marketing, research and development, and innovation.

As for our future plans, our primary focus is on increasing category awareness. Despite our strong digital presence, we've recognised that the awareness level among the average consumer remains relatively low, not just for our brand but for the entire category. We are expanding our offline presence city by city to generate more trials and drive awareness. This gradual approach aims to educate consumers about the importance of balanced nutrition and its impact on various aspects of health and well-being.

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