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Decoding Licious’ Organic App Growth Playbook


2C players like Licious and its peers have brought about a perceptible change in how meat is bought and consumed in India

According to a RedSeer report, the online meat market in India is estimated to reach $80-85 Bn by 2024

Vakul Agarwal of Licious claims that nearly 90% of the business happens via the startup’s app, and the app ecosystem will be critical for growth in many ways

The seismic consumer shift towards online shopping (accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic) certainly has one advantage. From fashion and jewellery to the latest gadgets, food ordering to cab booking to OTT viewing, buying farm-fresh fruits, veggies and milk to getting meat, fish and poultry home-delivered, there is no shortage of dedicated online platforms catering to tech-savvy, convenience-first shoppers.

Until recently, online retailing of meat and fish was not feasible in India, and local wet markets accounted for more than 90% of sales. But cold chains, procurement techniques and processing technologies have evolved fast, giving rise to organised meat markets and branded products. 

D2C startups like Licious and its ilk have significantly changed how meat and related products are bought and consumed by ensuring convenience, variety and, most importantly, product quality – ranging from freshness to food value, taste to texture.

According to a RedSeer report, the online meat market opportunity is estimated to reach $80-85 Bn by 2024, with the space ripe for disruption by branded players.

“Licious was built on the motto of nothing but the best. We will only serve our consumers if we can feed them what we are feeding our children,” said Vakul Agarwal, VP of growth at Licious, as part of an insightful fireside chat at Resonance

For context, Resonance was an initiative by Inc42 in partnership with Branch, a mobile marketing and deep-linking solutions provider, built around the theme – Acquiring And Retaining Users In A Mobile-First World.

Owing to its unwavering quality standards, the Bengaluru-based startup was awarded the FSSC 22000 certification in 2018, one of the most rigorous food safety certifications globally.

Watch Vakul Agarwal, VP of growth at Licious, in conversation with Sahil Singh, APAC sales head at Branch, as the former explains how Licious is improving user journey, growing its app and more.

With the onset of a harsh funding winter that saw startup investors tighten their purse strings, many D2C brands have shifted from rapid growth and huge cash burn to profitability and a steady, sustainable approach. This requires a renewed focus on customer retention, a critical growth path without spending too much on brand promotion or customer acquisition.  

“Retention has always been at the core of our business. It’s because the category (of customers) we cater to is a repeat business use case, not an acquisition-led one,” said Agarwal. “About 95% of our business comes from repeat customers alone.”

Licious, India’s first D2C foodtech unicorn, reached its goals in two steps. First, it ensured a high-quality physical product, and the next step involved shoring up the brand’s apps (Android and iOS) to provide personalised customer engagements and seamless customer experiences (CX).

As 90% of Licious’ business is done via the app, according to Agarwal, the D2C startup has access to [permissible] user data. 

“This helps us ensure personalisation and feature different storefronts to different users [based on their product preferences],” said Agarwal.

This data-driven differentiated approach helps the brand showcase the right products/categories to each user, thus boosting conversion rates and driving brand loyalty.

As the app plays a critical role in driving growth and profitability, what is Licious doing to direct its web traffic (mobile web included) to the app?

“Branch Journeys are something that we use,” said Agarwal. “Also, most of our incentives are only on the app, not the website.” 

For context, Journeys is a product by D2C enabler Branch that can drive app downloads and increase a brand’s web-to-app conversion rate by using personalised app banners and other tools.

Asked about the next big thing from Licious, Agarwal said that the D2C startup could be eyeing merchandising apart from pushing its recently launched plant-based meat products under UnCrave.

“Additionally, Licious is in a unique position to make a good play at conversations around meat and recipes. At present, we are trying to build it internally,” he concluded.

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