Can we have another round of shots, please?

Nikita Ann Varghese October 17 | Updated on October 17, 2021

Healthy pick me ups — compact 30 to 40 ml offerings — are trending in the beverage space

A strong immunity system has become the top priority of consumers in today’s post-pandemic world. At the same time convenience is key. Enter health shots — compact solutions that help incorporate vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants into one’s diet.

All those giloy, jamun, wheatgrass, ginger, turmeric and other natural foods beverages that were flying off the shelves, are now being sold in 30–40 ml daily packs that come in cartons of 12, 24 or more. Gone is the hassle of mixing a tablespoon with water — it’s all ready and blended, and you can start off your day by gulping these one-shot health boosters.

Healthy shooters

Check out online stores, and there is a mindboggling array of health shots — from wheatgrass and activated charcoal to apple cider vinegar. From the common to the exotic, they come with a bewildering variety of ingredients like ginger, onion, garlic, horseradish, black pepper, spirulina, moringa, and seaweed.

Predictably, it is the new D2C (direct to consumer) start-ups that have nimbly climbed on to the fast-growing functional shots bandwagon and are developing the category. There is Delhi-based Akiva Superfoods, started in 2016, leading the push, Nature Roots India set up by Darshan Mehta during the peak of the pandemic last year and Setu, the brainchild of Nihaal and Trisha Mariwala, that has expanded into immunity shots. Other brands in the functional shots fray include Dotshot, Maxnaturals and ARMR. Of course, Japanese brand Yakult has been an old player in this segment, with its probiotic gut shots.

“The global wellness shots market has crossed the $400 million mark in 2020 and is expected to become a $1 billion category by 2027,” says Garima Singh, Brand Manager, Akiva Love.

The brand, which sells shots in monthly packs of 30, 60, and 90 shots, has a wide array of shots that cover areas like immunity, gut cleanses, weight management and metabolism boosts.

Essentially, wellness or functional shots are concentrates of cold-pressed juices made from fruits, vegetables, spices or herbs. They pack a healthy punch, rev up immune-systems and are much easier on the palate.

When asked about their primary target group, Singh said that Akiva Love focusses on a DISK household (Double Income, Single Kid Urban). This household is globally aware, well-traveled, conscious about their health, spends money on the gym and chooses a Starbucks over CCD.

ARMR vs. Amla

However, many consumers feel that wellness shots are an unnecessary luxury, as they can be prepared at home as well. Despite this, the category is steadily growing with the demand for health drinks and need for convenience as key market drivers. The introduction of anti-hangover shots has also helped boost the category’s growing popularity.

Today, we see many consumers shifting from grandma’s trusty, old haldi doodh to tiny test tubes of turmeric that adorn the store shelves of bougie health stores. Siddhesh Sharma, Founder and CEO, Naturedge Beverages — makers of brand ARMR, believes that the primary reason behind this change of heart is the need for convenience.

“People have honestly never found ayurveda to be convenient or tasty but now with ARMR, we have changed that presumption, and our customers have been loving it,” he says.

They are convenient no doubt, but do these shots truly work? “Wellness shots are surprisingly yummy, but I think you need to be really consistent with them, if you want to see results. I find amla juice to be a lot more effective,” says Avani Awasthee, model and environmentalist.

Naturedge’s Sharma asserts, “Holistic living is the core of ayurveda as a science. ARMR shots are meant to be included in this holistic approach to health, and we prescribe a minimum of a month to start seeing results, with three months of regular usage for the desired outcome.”

Painless mornings

ARMR’s shots claim to battle hangovers by replenishing nutrients and restoring the body’s natural pH levels. They also beat gulping down raw ginger and borage oil any day.

“ARMR’s anti-hangover shots have become ritualistic, as whether out for a pint or a bottle, people enjoy waking up hangover free. Their packaging is designed to double up as a shot glass, which provide our customers with a complete experience like never before,” says Naturedge’s Sharma.

In fact, packaging can be a rather large obstacle for wellness brands. Since most of their consumers tend to prioritise sustainable living, they generally resonate with brands that have the same ideals.

Ameve Sharma, Co-Founder of Kapiva, says, “Finding the right packaging in the wellness segment can be a Herculean task. The key is to find the right balance between sustainability and cost. All of Kapiva’s packaging is recyclable and high-quality. We also try to use glass bottles, wherever possible.”

When asked about consumer feedback on the price point of such health drinks, he added, “People nowadays are looking for high-quality solutions for health and wellness. If a product is effective and works well, customers are more than willing to shell out a few extra bucks for it,” he says.

Kapiva, which is yet to jump on the wellness shot bandwagon, currently offers one-litre bottles of amla and aloe vera juice.

Viraj Patel, Director, Dotshot, believes that although the wellness market was traditionally dominated by these one-litre juices, many new products have come into the space in the last five years, as worthy contenders. “With more ready-to-consume shots coming in, the market is expanding, as consumers can now get immunity boosters that are tailored to their specific requirements,” he points out.

If a consumer is looking for a hassle-free dietary supplement, functional shots may just be what the doctor ordered. What's the bet, we will see big brands in this segment soon?

Published on October 17, 2021

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