Gaurav Raj, Co-founder, Morning Owl

Gaurav ventured into an entrepreneurial journey by setting up Morning Owl in 2019. The reason being, he wanted to create a brand that ensures one gets a healthy sleep and is accessible and affordable for all. Before starting his own venture Gaurav Raj, has been a seasoned sales professional and is an alumnus of the prestigious Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) B school. He has over 6 years of corporate experience where his last stint was managing sales in the North region for FMCD products at Casio.  

 

The retail sector in India is projected to surpass $1.7 Tn by 2025 and become one of the major markets in the world. India is witnessing the rise of D2C brands across categories and it is estimated to become a $ 100 Bn addressable market by 2025. The Internet democratized the resources needed to launch and grow a business. COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated online adoption amidst the temporary closure of physical stores and the growing reluctance of customers to shop offline. On the other hand, the digital ecosystem and evolving consumer needs have made new business models viable.

 These days, digitally native brands have grown to surpass the handful of legacy brands that have dominated each industry. Worldwide online retails sales are expected to hit 23% of total retail sales by 2023. Why is this happening? Two primary causes: Customers want to know more and want to know directly from the source; Customers want to save more and not pay the middle men margins. The key part to note is that DTC brands own the relationship with their customers.

 You feel you have a great idea, start by asking what are you solving for the customer? Let me explain with my context: I stepped out to buy a mattress. I was unable to find something that is natural with no chemicals and yet offers great body support and comfort. When I found out that a latex mattress is what I need, the offline stores were selling it at a markup of 80%. Hence, I decided to solve the customer’s need to buy and shop natural latex mattresses at affordable prices by delivering them from factory to doorstep. Will consumers suddenly trust an online brand to buy a mattress? I started offering a 100-night trial. It is important to understand what consumers want and that their expectations are evolving. What are the 2-3 unique features of your products? We wanted to sell 100% pure latex which is designed to offer optimum support to your spine and give you a great night’s sleep while making luxury affordable. What is your product positioning? Which space do you want to capture?

 Covid has also made consumers more health-conscious and shaped the need to take care of themselves. Consumers now want to invest in a healthy lifestyle and buy healthy natural products. This has led to an increase in players in the health segment. This has been a boon to Morning Owl. Most of what is available in the market – memory foam or PU foam – are all synthetic & carcinogen/ chemical infused. We offer chemical-free and completely safe mattresses and pillows to customers. We provide Natural, certified, 100% Pure Latex Mattresses & Pillows. We have been seeing 35% month on month growth. We are now seeing demand from Tier 2 towns and farthest corners of the country

 Now, how do you reach your consumer? It is important to design your website and marketing strategy to inform the customer about the product and the space you are in and thereby boosting online sales. Now in my case, customers want to research before investing in a mattress. The pandemic has made Consumers more conscious about their health and the need to take care of themselves. They ask questions, visit blogs, and view video tutorials. My customers come to me and say “most memory foam mattresses are made from petroleum-based polyurethane foam, chemical fire retardants, and potentially carcinogenic pesticides. How do I know latex is safe and that you are provided pure latex”. It then helped me realize I should share and display our product certifications.

Digital content consumption has shot up by twice in the post-pandemic world. How will you leverage this? How will you invest in this? Accordingly, what is your marketing plan?

 How focussed will you be on providing a great customer experience? Ensure you provide a seamless experience. Invest in good customer support.

This brings you to the key question – what is my budget? How will I finance it? Financial planning is a key aspect of any business. Globally Thrasio (thrasio.com), a US-based startup valued at US$1bn has emerged to be a dominant player in the D2C segment with acquisition entrepreneurship. In India also investors have started making inroads into the D2C space. With funding flowing in, this segment is only going to get bigger.

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