Beauty scale

Mensa Brands founder Ananth Narayanan on the globalization of Indian brands

In a country like India, with 1.35 billion people, there are less than 30 brands worth over $100 million each in fashion, beauty and home. This leaves a huge opportunity to explore and exploit. And that’s what gave birth to Mensaa mission to create a technology-driven global house of Indian brands.

The concept behind Mensa

There is a void in fashion, beauty and home brands in India – a market worth over $120 billion, of which more than 80% is unbranded. Moreover, as the GDP increases, the need for meaningful and useful brands also increases among people.

Second, there is the massive shift in distribution and brand building. They are done very differently today, thanks to rails built by Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon, etc., where you can reach 26,000 PINs in this country in less than three days at less than ₹140.

And the third factor is that even though India has always been very good at manufacturing and almost half of the global brands are made in India, we have never built brands globally.

So I thought, ‘In the next 10 years, could we create Indian brands that would become household names and go global?’ And I think it’s a unique opportunity…because I don’t think we’ve been able to create Indian brands for the world before. Because, we have never been able to get critical scale and critical size,Ananth said.

Role of Mensa in the globalization of brands

For a brand to go global, it is not as simple as opening the Amazon Tap-and-Order type of feed. But Ananth goes on to say that once the Amazon growth hack is sorted, you can actually do it anywhere in the world. Reviews and ratings are retained. So what’s interesting is that a brand is built here, its reviews and ratings are built more in India, and you use that to grow and scale the brand globally.

“For example, Karagiri, a saree brand, opened up in the US and is now starting to sell. About 20% of sales come from the US, which has been interesting because obviously Indiaspora buys. But they’re looking for fashionable and affordable sarees. Here, the growth hacking of Google and Facebook remains the same. Obviously, the audience targeting is different. The logistics and channels of logistics were solved by DHL and FedEx, quite efficiently,” he explains.

Common pitfalls budding D2C entrepreneurs should be aware of

A very obvious but critical point that entrepreneurs sometimes tend to overlook is that customer love matters. All of Amazon’s spend optimization or SEO can’t help if the reviews and ratings aren’t good.

“You can always grow a brand through grants, can’t you? Always. I mean, at a certain price, everything will sell, right? And so the question is, can- do you really understand unit economics and the consumer value proposition?” asks Ananth.

Second, be present on all channels. It is important to go beyond one channel and ensure you are able to break more than one channel as you grow as this leads to healthy growth and some control on your end results, as opposed to platforms having all the control.

And the third is to have a healthy mix of D2C, offline platform. The platform is good for giving an initial product-market fit and growth momentum. “I think offline is important because it makes your brand real, right? And D2C is important because you have an ongoing connection with consumers, so finding the right balance between those three elements is important in your first 18 to 24 months,” says Ananth.

You can listen to the full episode here

YouTube link


03:45 – Production of all brand building elements

09:00 – Why is brand building expensive?

12:30 – Why founders choose Mensa brands

18:00 – From unbranded to branded

25:30 – Find PMF in the D2C world