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Shalabh Gupta

Founder-CEO, Akiva Superfoods

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The Art of Being a Category Disruptor

Disruption by definition is a disturbance or problem, which interrupts an event, activity, or process

However, with the ever-increasing clutter and noise of a million brands across a zillion categories, sometimes the only way for someone to stand apart is to do something innovative and creative, almost to a point of being outrageously crazy. If it makes people stand up, take notice and start talking about the brand then half the battle is won. It doesn’t matter if the brand is established or new. One needs to innovate and disrupt the category to either stay relevant or to announce their existence.

Disruption does not happen in a day. Persist and be patient.

I am really fond of Nike. It is an iconic brand that has innovation at the heart. Nike in 2013 went all-in to disrupt the category of running shoes. They didn’t just alter existing running shoes, they reinvented it. They didn’t just make a new shoe, they made a new way of making a new shoe. Their ‘flyknit’ series is not just an athletic technology wonder, it has changed the way Nike produces their shoes; which is a lot more sustainable, environment-friendly and reduces long-term production costs. Nike earned its innovator badge through perseverance and tenacity. It is recognized that it took over 195 tries using the reinvented manufacturing process before the Flyknit Racer was finally ready for the market.

To disrupt a category, you have to be well versed with the nuances of the category.

OTT has transformed the way we engage with and consume content. A set of players took the average middle-class urban single screen household and created content to feed the desire for diverse desires across the family. Riding on the back of the cheaper, larger screen, bigger battery handsets and an always-on-Jio-data, the DTH, Cable TV category has been disrupted by the likes of Hotstar, AltBalaji, MX Player, YouTube, TikTok and other OTT players who have original content along with feed from News, GEC and Sports. For these players, to have been able to disrupt the category, they needed to understand the customer segments, content preference, stickiness factor and most importantly, the nuanced desires of the viewers. To be able to disrupt, first, go deep into what you are disrupting.

Disruption becomes sustainable when aimed at solving real-life challenges

A common mistake one makes is to view disruption as a marketing or sales gimmick. Innovation that solves a particular market/consumer need is a fabulous strategy to increase brand equity and product relevance. At Akiva Superfoods, we introduced Millennials to India’s first ready-to-drink herbal health shots. We did this to bring a natural remedy to some of the biggest challenges faced by an emerging consumer set. The benefits of ancient wisdom and natural ingredients have been widely accepted as effective solutions for weight, immunity, detox and skincare solutions. We launched India’s first flavoured A2 cow ghee to address the nutrition needs of an urban, health-conscious family, who frankly, weren’t considering Ghee as part of their diet. By making it more contemporary, modern and disruptive, we believe that we have introduced more Indian consumers to good fats, which are essential to overall good health. Our Matcha Peanut Butter is one-of-its-kind in India and is packed with amazing nutritional value while being very yummy. We are committed to bringing high-quality, reliable and innovative health foods to an emerging urban family. We deliver on this purpose by constantly solving for specific consumer needs by disrupting existing large scale categories.

One needs to work very hard to make disruption a way of being. There are components of art and science to the process of disruption, and sometimes one takes over the other. However, in the end, it all comes down to how you enable and empower your consumers to get ahead in life by virtue of your innovation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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