The 12 months changed into 2003. Ecommerce turned into taking baby steps in India, but there was no dearth of intriguing principles within the offline space. So, a small brick-and-mortar business in Delhi focused young humans and commenced selling quirky products, elevating a few eyebrows and increasing client interest.
Nine years later, the enterprise embraced a virtual makeover and entered ecommerce marketplaces for problem-free operations and wider reach. Next got here the formidable pivot. In 2014, the business enterprise made a foray into the guys’s grooming marketplace, largely underserved however rarely explored by means of new customer brands as legacy gamers used to rule that space.
This is the story of Happily Unmarried that has enjoyed a cult-like recognition. Its achievement stemmed from many factors, be it present day (but basically Indian) product designs or quick-witted branding or exciting song gala's hosted to enchantment to a broader institution of human beings.
But deep interior, it changed into all about efficiently predicting a marketplace fashion in advance of its time and having the courage to enter a phase nonetheless in its infancy. Its guys’s grooming business operates underneath the emblem name of Ustraa (Hindi for straight razor) and has emerged as the frontrunner in a area rapid getting populated via the likes of Bombay Shaving Company, The Man Company, Beardo and more.
According to Research and Markets, a Dublin-based totally marketplace research company, the guys’s grooming market in India changed into worth $643 Mn in 2018 and is projected to develop at a CAGR of 11% to attain $1.2 Bn via 2024. Ustraa has reportedly captured a vast chunk of this growing marketplace as the new bunch of startups within the men’s grooming area find their advocates among more youthful generations. Ustraa clocked an working sales of INR 60 Cr in FY21.
Both Ustraa and its figure agency, Happily Unmarried, are a part of masses of lots of Indian corporations with comparable entrepreneurial aspirations. However, strolling a commercial enterprise isn't an smooth assignment. There could be unforeseen problems at every step (just like the international economic meltdown or the Covid-19 black swan).
Or a unmarried mistake across operations or approach can also carry an ambitious mission crashing to the floor. Add to that a quite aggressive environment and matters get more tough. That is why a a hit enterprise journey involves many learnings, and the takeaways from veteran marketers are priceless. What has Happily Unmarried/Ustraa learnt from its lengthy adventure, pivot and travails? Let us check the essential information nuggets that maintain the business growing.
First Things First: How To Make Your Brand Discoverable And When To Opt For Change
Rajat Tuli (CEO) and Rahul Anand (MD) first met in 1996 at Mudra Institute of Communication (MICA), Ahmedabad, where they were pursuing their postgraduate research in advertising and marketing communications. But when they went job hunting and researched various organizations, both observed that few consumer-dealing with corporations ever target unmarried humans as their center consumer base. The duo sensed an possibility and soon commenced Happily Unmarried, a logo focused on young, unmarried humans and providing a huge variety of bar accessories, memorabilia and present items.
Positioning itself as a ‘cool’ brand, the enterprise explored unconventional advertising campaigns, proposing quirky messages to spotlight its merchandise and web hosting track festivals to attract its target audience. Within a brief span, the logo became found in greater than forty cities and accumulated a devoted consumer base.
The offline-best format labored well for years, but in 2012, the cofounders determined to go into the ecommerce area as encouraged by Sanjeev Bikhchandani, cofounder of Info Edge conglomerate. Info facet become also the primary investor in the enterprise when the business enterprise raised a funding round in 2012.
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“Earlier, our concept of walking a business became having a laugh and doing what we favored. We have been going to Goa and web hosting occasions. We in no way thought of it as a large enterprise. But that 12 months (2012), we notion it was time to get extreme,” said Tuli.
Happily Unmarried additionally raised a seed spherical in 2012 to expand its virtual infrastructure. To date, the organisation has raised funds throughout multiple rounds with information part and Wipro Consumer collaborating in more than one rounds. The state-of-the-art got here in February 2021, when it raised INR 50 Cr in Series H, led by IIFL Seed Ventures Fund.
“The largest learning for us from our Happily Unmarried years became that you don’t need to spend a lot in ad campaigns to build a customer base. Happily Unmarried turned into constructed on phrase-of-mouth advertising. We also learnt the pitfalls of an offline-handiest commercial enterprise, inclusive of geographic boundaries and the large capital expenditure to serve a much wider target market,” said Tuli.
The Change Challenge: Learnings For Newbies In The Digital Space
For Happily Unmarried, the foray into ecommerce was no longer clean crusing all the time. Tuli informed Inc42 that several computerized tactics which include product designing, product list on websites and ecommerce marketplaces and retaining song of online inventories across channels had to be finished manually in 2012.
Selling on-line had other demanding situations too, proper from low net penetration of 302 Mn, on-line payment disasters and clients not used to shopping for on line. With the inventory range of Happily Unmarried, the agency was not capable of see the ability of creating a enterprise that would generate over 500 Cr in revenue. They felt the need to give you a product range which had a bigger patron base. Thus the corporation determined to transport to a specific product line and launched Ustraa.
“We realised that we already had a audience that was frequently guys. So, we sat down and mulled over the following exceptional method (which might help us leverage the prevailing purchaser base) and that became when the idea of guys’s grooming merchandise took place,” recalled Tuli.
The Product-Market Fit: What Happens When The Market Is Not Ready
In 2014, the business enterprise started working on its grooming emblem Ustraa, which currently gives a wide range of merchandise in categories; Beard Care & add-ons, Hair Care, Fragrances and Washes like face wash, body wash and soaps. Once again, it was now not a smooth takeoff.
Back then, male grooming changed into a new idea, maximum professionals have been sceptical about the potential.
However, the Happily Unmarried crew turned into convinced of the idea of male grooming products sensing the patron behaviour shifting in the direction of trying to look true. As a end result, the employer released the brand with a limited variety of merchandise from the Happily Unmarried catalogue.
Ustraa claims that it began outselling Happily Unmarried simply 3 months after the release. “We knew we have been onto some thing big and we absolutely shut down Happily Unmarried to recognition handiest on Ustraa,” Tuli told Inc42. The enterprise now could be working closer to the target to touch INR a hundred Cr in FY22. Apart from its very own website, the logo additionally leverages extra than 30 ecommerce marketplaces to develop its consumer base. At gift, Ustraa sells at over 5,000 retailers all over the country.
The Logistics Hurdle: How To Remove The Roadblocks
Even in 2021, logistics is the most important bottleneck for ecommerce, and most of the brands are now leveraging 0.33-celebration logistics (3PL) offerings for green, value-effective operations and on-time shipping. But that changed into now not the case all through the ultimate decade.
As the ecommerce commercial enterprise scaled up, courier prices started playing a giant position in the unit economics for the organisation. To clear up the persisting problem, the emblem started discovering to discover the most efficient courier service in each place to understand their price competitiveness.
The agency also faced multiple problems with cash-on-transport orders, still the favored mode of ordering at the time. Then there have been fee delays from shipping companions and numerous cases of transport disasters/RTOs (go back to foundation), resulting in double freight expenses.
However, there was an answer in sight. In 2021, the business enterprise determined to accomplice with the Delhi-based 3PL corporation Shiprocket and saw improvements on all fronts. For starters, the logistics enabler offers a personalized dashboard with all its courier partners’ information to make the service-requirement matching easy. It also offers get right of entry to to actual-time order monitoring and delivery reviews to ensure most beneficial provider responsibility.
“Shiprocket has helped us in shipping orders to twenty-eight,000+ pincodes and accomplishing a huge set of customers. They have additionally helped in adding to our publish-buy enjoy by way of updating the clients approximately the cargo whilst in transit,” says Tuli.
For Brand Ustraa, going digital from the very starting and locating a dependable logistics partner have led to fine business consequences. The guys’s grooming emblem, at gift, has its customer base in 1,three hundred tier 1, tier 2 and beyond and promises almost 1.5 Mn shipments in keeping with yr.
For Happily Unmarried, the figure logo, it has been an eventful adventure, transferring via unconventional product thoughts and betting large on area of interest product categories.
According to Tuli, the entire credit score goes to its unswerving customers who had depended on the corporation through more than one pivots and alterations.
“Both Rahul and I attention lots on brand constructing. We constantly interacted and engaged with our customers on social media, and it helped us generate significant conversations and apprehend their needs. People have a perception that Ustraa have become famous in only three months. But in truth, it took us 9 years of learnings from Happily Unmarried to construct and scale Ustraa quicker,” he concluded.