'We want to connect directly with the consumer': Founder of Divisa Herbal Care Sanjeev Juneja to BrandSutra

SANJEEV JUNEJA, Founder of Divisa Herbal Care and SBS Biotech, is a first-generation entrepreneur who has created leading brands such as Dr Ortho, Roop Mantra, Pet Saffa, Sachi Saheli, etc., in the Ayurvedic products category. Here, he recounts in his own words the journey of building his business from scratch, selling the brand ‘Kesh King’ to Emami in a blockbuster deal in 2015, plans to get into the D2C space and launch a range of cost-effective immunity-enhancing products in the near future

AYURVEDA ATTRACTED ME SINCE CHILDHOOD…

My passion for Ayurveda started right from my childhood. I received the wisdom of Ayurveda as a legacy from my father, Late Dr I K Juneja, who was a BAMS doctor and very passionate about Ayurveda. My mother also used to study literature on Ayurveda. Thus, I got early exposure to the field and my parents were surprised at the avidity with which I used to study and collect Ayurvedic literature. Education begins the moment a child is capable of learning. Thus, I started to focus on the Ayurvedic scriptures, literature and their way of healing patients. I was very attracted to Ayurveda, but averse to picking up a job. I wanted to do something on my own. My father’s sudden demise in 1999 left all of us in the family shattered and held me back from pursuing my dreams. It took a long time to come to terms with reality. Finally, in 2001, I went on to launch Sanjeev Pharmaceuticals, a products manufacturing company at Ambala in Haryana. But, it was not a red carpet walk to success as it appears from the figures today. At one point, I actually went from shop to shop, selling my products. The first two years were tough, as I spent several sleepless nights thinking about how to improve my products and gain a decent stronghold in the market. When I set out, the business was small and operated from a single room. Today, we have multi-storied offices in Ambala and Chandigarh.

ON TO MY JOURNEY AS AN ENTREPRENEUR…

After years of hard work and to meet the growing demand for my products, I focused on setting up an ultra-modern Ayurvedic production facility at Kala Amb in 2008. I launched my firm Divisa Herbal Care at Kala Amb and entered a partnership with SBS Biotech Unit-II. It required an in-depth study of consumer demands and market analysis to make it successful. With trust in my ability and vision, I rolled out many innovative brands in the market. The game changed overnight as we launched ‘Kesh King’ oil, capsules and shampoo in July, 2009. Due to our consistent efforts and long-term strategic planning, Kesh King became one of the highest-selling consumer-oriented brands in the Indian market. I sold the brand ‘Kesh King’ to Emami Limited in May, 2015. Today, Divisa Herbal Care and SBS Biotech Unit-II have transcended all barriers and are recognized in the market as one of the fastest-growing FMCG companies.

TAKING ON A TOUGH MARKET SCENARIO…

The market for Ayurveda is highly competitive and one should possess an innovative and pioneering approach to remain ahead. Under the Dr Juneja’s range, we provide high-standard Ayurvedic products to consumers at pocket-friendly prices. These products are the result of good manufacturing practices and various SOPs are designed to maintain the quality of the products. We have third party manufacturing of our products as well, with strict quality control ensured by our team. All these come together to make our operations profitable.

Today, the world needs more of Ayurveda and we are putting in our best efforts to spread awareness among consumers to adopt Ayurvedic products and preserve our great heritage. Though there is huge competition in the market in this category, we are moving stronger than ever because of our sheer intent to deliver quality-driven authentic products for customer satisfaction, which is our topmost priority. We constantly take feedback from our customers and keep in touch with them through our 24x7 customer care call centre. We only focus on providing the best to our consumers, with qualified professionals deployed at every level. One challenge we face is the menace of counterfeit products. We deal with it legally and with effective communication.

While launching our brands, we work on various strategies, such as taking stock of consumer demand, effectiveness and quality of the brand, reach of the brand, development techniques, marketing and promotion strategies and other factors. Compiling and examining all this consumer information, we decide on what type of product is to be launched next. My whole team works to devise strategies for the brands.

OUR RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC…

Understanding the need of people in the current scenario, we launched the brand ‘Tulsi Mantra’ with two products, Tulsi drops and Ayush Kadha, to help people maintain their immunity naturally, aided by the traditional concepts of Ayurveda. Complying with the guidelines of the Ministry of Ayush, we developed these products at pocket-friendly prices, so that people can derive maximum benefit. Other than this, we are working on the ground to assist people with all the help that we can provide them. Our NGO ‘IKJ Care’, named after my father, has been very active in the second wave of COVID-19. Among other things, we donated five ambulances, one of them to Sonu Sood in his hometown Moga.

Long-term strategy & focus areas AHEAD

Our flagship brand is Dr Ortho, and all our other big brands - Pet Saffa in the laxative category, Roop Mantra in skin care, Sachi Saheli in women’s hygiene care - are the hero brands in their respective categories. Tulsi Mantra, launched in COVID time, Eye Mantra and Itchku ointment and lotion, etc., are also performing well. Now, our endeavour is to make our products more user-friendly with brand extensions. For example, we are introducing Pet Saffa green tea - to make consumption easy for those who may find the powder cumbersome - as also travel-friendly sachets. We are extending our hero brand Dr Ortho (which has ointment, oil, spray and balm) to pain management accessories like knee caps, crepe bandages, cervical pillows, spinal belts, etc. They have received excellent response, as we enjoy brand loyalty. Similar extensions are planned for our other brands too. The big vision for our future is getting into the D2C space, where we connect directly with the consumer. In a year or two, we plan to launch a range of cost-effective immunity-enhancing products under the banner of our NGO ‘IKJ Care’, the earnings from which will be used to fund its expenses and charity efforts.

‘WE LIVE FOR HAPPINESS; ALL ELSE IS AROUND THAT’

Whatever I have achieved in my life wouldn’t have been possible without the love, support and contribution of my family, friends and trade partners. I owe my success to my parents and wife. We go on holidays together as we live for happiness, and everything revolves around that. Finance is just one part of success. Nothing gives me more joy and satisfaction than the smiling faces of people close to me. Other than this, it is really exciting to lead a group that’s reaching new milestones every year and I believe that my employees and consumers are my real assets. Their competency and support have played a major role in the growth of this group.

HOW I ENDED UP BUYING ROOP MANTRA AT A STORE!

While vacationing in Dehradun about 3-4 years back, I happened to visit a medical store to buy something. Casually, I asked the store owner whether he could recommend any skin care product. He pitched Roop Mantra to me, and went on singing high praises of the product. He told me he could guarantee its efficacy and swore that whoever uses it once will get hooked to it! I ended up buying a tube of Roop Mantra, without revealing my identity. My family and I had a good laugh over it later!

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