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Generix bets on a changing urban India for its supplements business

By Ankush Chibber , 30-Sep-2011

India-based Generix Lifesciences Pvt. Ltd. is betting on changing lifestyle patterns and an increased awareness of health and fitness issues in India for its new nutraceuticals business.

The company signed an agreement with Japan-based Kaneda Corporation and Hydride Ion Corporation (HIC) last month to set up a new division under Generix, called Genlife, which would market food supplements targeting lifestyle conditions in India.

Four such products have been rolled out in New Delhi and the National Capital Region, said Genlife director Sandeep Jha, and more than 100 such products would be rolled out to other Tier 1 cities in India over the next five years.

With Kaneda, Genlife has launched Flabonoid, a soft gel that it claims to prevent metabolic syndrome; Glowrious, a tablet that it claims improves skin moisture levels and reduces wrinkles; and Ubi Activ QH, a soft gel that it claims to prevent reduced co-enzyme Q10 levels, provides energy and acts as an anti-oxidant.

“With HIC, we have launched Agestat, an anti-ageing hard gel that harnesses negative hydrogen ions for this purpose. We have another 15 to 20 products in their pipeline,” said Jha.

“The current Indian market size is about US$1bn and it is growing at about 18% annually. It is expected to be about US$8bn worth by 2020,” he said.

“Our target segments are the currently affluent, and the health-aware, who are willing to go the extra mile in order to keep fit and healthy,” said Jha, who added that the market for the nutraceuticals is small, but growing in India.

This growth will be boosted by changing lifestyle patterns, which are a function of rising income levels, and an increased awareness about lifestyle diseases, according to Jha.

However, there are challenges too in the nutraceuticals business, Jha conceded, including the high price of these products (Genlife’s products range from US$26 to US$146 depending on the product). Genlife currently imports these products wholesale from Japan, and then repackages them for sale in the Indian market.

“The high price is because of the import duties that the Indian government levies on food supplements which in all top out to about 70% of the total cost of the product in India,” he said.

Another challenge in the Indian market, said Jha, was that the average Indian is wary of taking a pill or a gel as a preventive measure even though he may be willing to exercise for the same.

“The tendency is to be wary of any pills even though these may be food supplements. Customers tend to think that if they are not ill, they should not be given what they think are medicines,” he said.

To fight this, and also to improve access, Jha revealed, Genlife would be using doctors, who can convince individuals of the products’ usefulness, as their most important sales and marketing channel for the products.

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