D2C Startups & Their Love For Pets


India’s pet care market is a sleeping giant, and that’s good news, no matter if you are a cat person or a dog person

One of the most exciting things about the growth of D2C is that it has ushered in the age of brands in India. Just the other day, I was looking at gifts for a friend’s new pet and to my surprise, nearly a dozen Indian startups have rolled out private label pet care and accessories brands, in addition to a handful of marketplaces.

India’s pet care market is a sleeping giant, and there’s more reason to be excited, especially now that funding has started to trickle in. But as we will see, ‘Big Pet Food’ is not about to make it easy for brands to make a dent in their market share.

First, here are two stories that caught our attention in the past week:

D2C ❤️Pets

Our cats and dogs may often be the smallest member of the family but there’s definitely nothing small about the love and affection we shower upon them. And this is keenly reflected in the spending for pet care and pet food.

Make no mistake; this is a mega industry and something most non-pet owners may not even be aware of.

?? The India Opportunity: For one, India is the fastest growing pet care market in the world, with the pet care market in India expected to grow 14% to become a $490 Mn opportunity by 2022. The pet food market alone will contribute more than 63% or $310 Mn to this, led by dog food. 

??The Pet Care Brigade: India’s pet care landscape is largely dominated by pet food brands, with accessories, lifestyle products and grooming being secondary. The major players include the likes of Heads Up For Tails (HUFT), Supertails, Dogspot, Wiggles, Doggie Dabbas, Benny’s Bowls, Flying Fur, Captain Zack among others. 

A majority of these are focussed on pet food, while Supertails and HUFT are both marketplaces that even offer vet consultations. Within this space, products are evolving quickly; Wiggles, for example, offers cannabis pain therapy oils for our canine and feline friends.

Akshay Gupta, who is an investor in pet grooming company Flying Fur, believes that market maturity is key for adoption of pet lifestyle products. After all, food is an everyday necessity, whereas grooming or lifestyle products are not. 

?Investors Show Love: The funding tap has been well and truly turned on for some of the major pet care startups. This past week, Pune-based Wiggles raised $5.5 Mn to fuel research and development in new ‘category-creating’ products. HUFT raised $37 Mn in a Series A round in August, while in July, Supertails raised $2.6 Mn from VC firms and celeb investors such as Deepika Padukone.

?‍?The Pet Influencers: Like other D2C categories, pet care brands are bullish on influencer marketing and social commerce. Dogspot, which is one of the older pet care startups in India having been founded in 2007, is looking to turn influencers into resellers after converting them into true fans of the products, said founder Rana Atheya. 

?Big Pet Care Vs Startups: But given that the global pet care market is estimated to be a $241.1 Bn opportunity by 2026, the incumbents and established retail players are unlikely to sit back and give up their share of the market. 

Startups expect to see pushback from brands in terms of aggressive pricing or retail tactics from companies. Gupta, who is also founder of dog food brand Benny’s Bowl, said the advantage for startups is that they are run by those who love pets and so the products are well informed and modern. 

? The D2C Acquisition Brigade

Last week, we dived into the entry of Thrasio in India and how it will play out amid a slew of competitors looking to acquire and scale-up brands or buy out established players. Here are the acquisitions made by these Thrasio-like platforms this year:

D2C Discovery: Salad ?

When we think of condoms, the brands that pop up in your head are the usual contraceptive giants such as Manforce or Durex and their salacious ads, but that could soon change if Aruna Chawla and her startup Salad have a say.

Chawla wants to change the dialogue and narrative around condoms in India, which is pleasure focused and not about health. Salad’s vegan condoms are made in India with non-toxic and natural rubber latex sourced from sustainable rubber forests in India.

?The Idea: India has very low adoption rates for condoms (5.6%), despite it being the cheapest contraceptive and even being sold at subsidised rates by the government. Chawla believes this is due to the stigma or shame associated with condoms. 

? Business Model: Salad sells a single condom SKU through its website right now, and will list its products on Nykaa, Amazon, NetMeds and other online channels in the next two months. It claims to have over 500 customers with 60% repeat orders. It’s looking to expand its condom lineup before entering the broader sexual wellness, health, and lifestyle products market in 2022.

?The Mission: The company is also looking to introduce sex education curriculum in schools and colleges — Salad has pledged 15% of its profits towards this cause.

?Presenting FAST42 – D2C Edition 2022

The age of D2C deserves recognition in its own right. Which is why Inc42 and social commerce platform Trell have collaborated to seek out and celebrate India’s fastest-growing D2C brands with the inaugural FAST42 – D2C Edition 2022.

We are looking for 42 of India’s fastest-growing D2C brands who get a chance to boost their visibility, gain brand recognition and access potential growth opportunities. The last date of application is November 15, 2021.

Explore FAST42 Now

D2C Buzz In India 

  • ? Baby’s Day Out! Baby care brand R For Rabbit raised INR 40 Cr and is looking to expand its lineup of baby toys, development products and nursing equipment
  • ?Nykaa’s Fab IPO! Nykaa drew massive interest from investors, with its IPO having been subscribed 81.78 times and attracting bids worth nearly $32.53 Bn
  • ?Running In Flip-Flops… Footwear brand CHUPPS raised $1.1 Mn to expand its range of sustainable flip-flops
  • ?Thrasio For Food? Hyderabad-based TTSF Cloud One raised $5.3 Mn from Times of India group’s Brand Capital looking to acquire cloud kitchens

That’s all for this week folks.

Here’s wishing you a very happy Diwali from everyone here at Inc42. 

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