RAW Pressery working on slow but steady expansion

MUMBAI: What started off as a quest to find an alternative to artificial juices has today become a brand that is growing rapidly. RAW Pressery is a market leader in the fresh juice segment, a category that is growing rapidly given the surge in ‘organic lifestyles’.

A lifelong athlete, RAW Pressery founder Anuj Rakyan took a keen interest in juices while nursing an injury that he picked up playing football. This is when he began to research nutrition in order to stay healthy and the company’s journey started with a simple question–why does being healthy have to be so complicated?

The company began operations in 2013 by home-delivering bottled juices with the help of the famous Dabbawalla network across Mumbai and Pune. By 2014, RAW Pressery had partnered retail outlets Foodhall and Godrej Nature’s Basket and received its first round of funding of $4.5 million by Sequoia Capital. Today, it is not only present across 13 cities in India but has a strong export market in Doha, Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. RAW Pressery’s products are also available at key metro airports and airlines such as Air Asia and Vistara. From 2016 to 2017, the company's revenue grew by 120 per cent riding on distribution and acquisitions.

The juice segment was worth Rs 25,000 crore in 2016 and has grown by more than 50 per cent in the last year. In 2017, it began establishing itself beyond the juice market by trying out other healthful products such as smoothies, almond milk, coconut water and soups. It will later also launch dairy items. For now, the focus is on beverages while the food category will be an initiative for later this year or next year.

Despite the steep pricing of Rs 80-150 for its juices, RAW Pressery has been able to carve its niche among the health-conscious urban youth. Since the launch, the brand has invested close to Rs 4 crore into marketing and had aims to double that in FY 2018-19. The company was in the limelight when actress Jacqueline Fernandez became an investor by putting in Rs 3.5 crore. got talking to RAW Pressery marketing head Smritika Sharma to understand the company’s positioning in the cluttered market, target audience, plans and much more. Excepts: 

public://Smritika Sharma.jpg

It has only been five years since the company was launched and the initial struggle must have limited your profit margins. But how has the year-on-year growth for Raw Pressery?

When we started we had our own challenges to create brand awareness but we have had a fast growth since we already started off with a small base when compared to any other big brand that exists in the market. We started off on zero base and honestly, there have been years when we doubled our business. Today, we comfortable grow at 30-35 per cent per year. 

Will you be looking at line extension anytime soon?

We currently have around 29 variants along with soups, nut milk and smoothies which have all done phenomenally well for us and have high demand in the market. In fact, as we speak, our probiotic drink is being launched in India. We are also actively working on our alkaline water which will launch between July or August this year itself. 

The company has always marketed itself as a product/brand for the health conscious urban consumer. Who are your communication and consumption audience?

The communication audience for our brand is the young professional between the age group of 25-40 years. Our consumption audience could range anywhere between a six-year-old kid to a 65-year-old person. It could also be a 25-year-old millennial or a 35-year-old young working professional. Our green juices do really well for fitness and health enthusiasts.

And what’s your marketing budget like?

We usually spend 10 per cent of our revenue on marketing and communication for the brand.

We don’t see a lot of marketing initiates by RAW Pressery on television which is the case with a lot of new age brands lately. Do you also have a digital first approach?

Yes, we are a digital first company and we always look at amplifying our messaging on digital first. Since we are available in 11 cities, digital allows us to use geo-targeting and create customised content for our audience. Most of our advertising budget is allocated for digital. Television and outdoor is very selective pointing to the markets where we are approaching the traditional media route. We did seven outdoor hoardings last year and this year was our second outdoor campaign which received phenomenon response. We have expanded our reach to 1500+ point of sale across airports, traditional retail and modern retail. We want to communicate at all possible touch points to tell our consumers that we are present here.

So are you not keen on investing in television?

Our audience is definitely on television but the cost implications are way too high to advertise on television. Last year, we did two collaborations with Comedy Central. We have looked at relevant television in the past. Lifestyle channels like TLC, FOX Life and NDTV Good Times is exactly the kind of audience that we want to look at. Our budget for television is really low and there is only so much we can to advertise and ensure it doesn’t hamper our digital budget.

A lot of new age brands are taking the route of brand integration to ensure visibility and awareness. Will you look at doing something along those lines?

We have not done a lot of brand integration in web series but it’s in the pipeline with taste brand/gobble segment which will include small master classes and quick DIY cooking series. We approach food bloggers a lot and we are more interested in that kind of content. We will not do something like a Tata Tiago Tripling integration anytime soon because you need big budgets for something like that and the stickiness is for a very long term.

How strong is your distribution network?

We had our footprint grow from six cities in 2016 to now 12 cities in 2018. Our products are also available in Qatar and Dubai. We recently started distributing in Saudi Arabia and next year we will look at capturing more national and international markets. 

What’s the hurdle you’re facing in trying to get your products on the shelves of local outlets?

We are actually trying to resolve that internally. The shelf life of the product is unlike any other. Our products have only 21 days shelf life which is the longest in cold pressed juice segment. Also, since it is a cold storage product, from the time it is produced to the time it reaches the consumer, we try to maintain a constant temperate of four to eight degrees. We don’t look at profit margins on how we can tweak the product to make its shelf life longer by adding artificial substances. This is why we don’t put in any emulsifier or boil the products, which is what other tetra-packed products have in order for them to survive that long. Our expansion is slow but steady. 

What about your distribution in smaller pockets?

We want to educate consumers that if the juice box sitting on the shelf at a store for the last 60 days still tastes sweet, maybe there is something artificial about it. We are seeing a lot of interest from airports and hotels who now want to convert to offering the consumer the best product for the beverage. I don’t think it will be a hindrance and at some point in time, there will be a shift and it's already happening in the industry where big juice brands are talking about concentrated juice. This is exactly what the industry needed. 

Since the products are priced at a premium, don’t you think you will tend to lose on some potential buyers who want to consume the product but don’t want to end up spending Rs 200 or Rs 300 for a bottle of juice. Will you consider making it more accessible?

Yes, while we are perceived to be a higher priced product, we also want to be perceived as a higher valued product. We are giving consumers 100 per cent juice at Rs 80 as opposed to other products that have 50 per cent concentrated juice and the rest is water. Our product is similar to consuming brown bread for instance. If a consumer has switched over from white bread to brown bread because it is a healthier option, he/she will never go back to eating white bread just by knowing the fact that brown bread is better than white and nutritious. 

The product has a huge fan following among Bollywood A list actors who promote the brand on social media. Why not look at having a brand ambassador then?

We strongly believe that our product is a star in itself and we don’t need to put a face to it. We have celebrities reaching out to us for products like Malaika Arora, Alia Bhatt and Amrita Arora but we don’t ask or insist them to promote the product. 

The company has only one manufacturing unit in Panvel. Are you looking at expanding the manufacturing units to cater to higher demand for the product?

Yes, we only have one manufacturing unit so far which helps us in delivering throughout India. But we are actively looking at expanding our units. We are upgrading to a new bigger facility this year in Panvel. Also, when we expand to other markets and have a sustainable business with higher revenue share, we will definitely open up more manufacturing units in other parts of the country. The units will expand wherever we go and expand our footprint. 

When RAW Pressery came into business, it was a disruptor and offered one of a kind product. But a lot has changed in the last five years in the fresh juice segment. How do you view the growing competition from other players such as Onjus, Pepsico’s Naked, Just Pressed?

While there are other players in the market, RAW Pressery is the only national player that is into cold pressed juices and provides 100 per cent natural products. We don’t consider any product operating in the same category as a competition but I do think that the cold pressed juice category in itself is competing with 100 per cent juice category where we are trying to differentiate ourselves from the latter. The competition and conversation has now started about awareness of the consumer with the latest news and controversy about two major juice brands talking about concentrated fruit juice.

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