As someone who has been in the world of consumer brands for the past three decades, it’s safe to say that the first 25 years have not been half as transformative as the past five.
Many different aspects have come together to make this happen: Digital infrastructure has evolved dramatically. Technology is enabling access to newer markets, in more and more innovative ways. Entrepreneurs are finding new ways to solve consumer needs, while consumers are, quite actively, seeking greater customisation, deeper understanding, and higher responsibility from the brands they choose. Investors in India and overseas are putting their weight behind new-age businesses. Our portfolio companies have grown, and continue to grow, whether across geographies, or offerings, or business models.
At Fireside, I have had the fortune of being a part of the journey of some of India’s most exciting brands. As a team, the past five years have deepened our own understanding of the ecosystem. It is both exciting and extremely humbling to see the truly transformative effect of new-age brands on the consumer landscape. It is a privilege to help our portfolio companies find the right springboard to leap to the next level, and the next decade promises to be even more thrilling.
For me, though, the most exciting part of the ride is the emergence of a new sensibility, a sense of consciousness and responsibility. Consumers are voting with their wallet for brands that share this view of the world, whether Patagonia, or Allbirds, or Fenty. We see this sensibility in our founders, too, as they build brands with sustainability and inclusivity in their DNA. They make business choices that are fairer, more ethical, and more responsible. That give back to their people and their community.
That has always been at the core of my lifelong respect for consumer brands – they go beyond being mere products and transactions, they actually build bonds with their consumers. From the sense of family that Hamara Bajaj created, to the idea that your home reflects who you are in Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai, these are the brands that endure.
Consumer brands have long shaped the world we live in. Today, they are poised to make the highest kind of impact – to make the world itself a better place. As an investor focused on helping build iconic, purposeful brands, I could not ask for more.
Just as we work with online marketplaces and sales channels to help our portfolio reach their audiences, we now collaborate with plastic recyclers and carbon offsetters. We’ve built a primer for responsible startups, Building the Value of Good. It has resources, case studies, and a playbook for every business at any stage of its journey.
The need of the times is for collective action, and we are at an inflection point today. Please treat this as a starting point – send us your learnings and examples, and ideas on how we can do more.
Here’s to the consumers, the true drivers of all change. And here’s to the next five years of helping new-age brands serve them better… and perhaps go on to become international icons!