New lifestyle branding for vitamin supplements reinvigorates a staid consumer category.
Half of all Americans regularly take a vitamin or supplement, according to a Gallup survey, creating an industry worth an estimated $37 billion. Yet despite those figures, little has changed in the vitamin industry since its inception to keep up with other consumer trends.
“This feeling of going into the vitamin store was overwhelming,” Craig Elbert, chief executive at vitamin startup Care/of and former Bonobos marketing VP told the New York Business Journal. “I basically didn’t know what the difference was in the brands…Between myself, and prenatal vitamins for my wife, the overall experience was miserable. I remembered at Bonobos, we focused on how to make a delightful experience that a consumer enjoys. I had felt there was a way to do that for vitamins—something that has a little bit of fun in it.”
Today, a combination of lifestyle branding, wellness influence and retail convenience are bringing major changes to the vitamin industry. Care/of’s customizable vitamin packs launched in November, promising “honest guidance and better ingredients.” Users answer questions about their age and lifestyle and an algorithm recommends a custom blend sourced from high-quality ingredients. Care/of packs are delivered monthly for roughly $30 per month.
Ritual, another brand seeking to change perceptions of vitamins, debuted in October. For $30 each month, subscribers receive a supply of vitamins tailored for women’s development, a fee that founder Katerina Schneider called “luxury at a fair price.” Ritual’s bright, millennial-friendly branding is a welcome departure from the look of traditional supplements, and includes icons that demonstrate Ritual’s wellness benefits, like ‘Improves mood’ or ‘Maintains energy.’
Ritual’s unique packaging not only makes the habit Instagram-worthy, it also dovetails with one of the product’s most important features: transparency. Each vitamin contains only nine essential ingredients, including vitamin B12, vitamin E, magnesium and folate—with no synthetic colors or added fillers. The company’s website even includes a map showing where each ingredient was sourced. Echoing the commitment, the vitamin itself is transparent, with beaded capsules designed to release ingredients at the optimum time.
According to experts, vitamins are now beginning to pick up a growing interest in clean ingredients and holistic supply chains. “There’s been this growing interest in transparency we’ve seen across consumer packaged goods and especially food,” Chris Schmidt, an analyst at Euromonitor, told the New York Times. “If anything, the vitamin and dietary supplement industry has been late to the party.”
Other vitamin brands show plenty of energy and creativity in the sector. Nootrobox offers daily supplements of Nootropics, natural ingredients designed to “hack” the body into better performance. And Multiply Labs is a Y-combinator backed personalized supplement created with 3D-printing technology.
Vitamin startups show how consumer trends from lifestyle sectors, food and drink or even retail could be used to revitalize a flagging industry—particularly as wellness continues to permeate nearly every consumer sector. If successful, new vitamin brands could even point to lessons that the broader pharmaceutical industry could heed, lest they be late to the party as well.
For more on health, keep a lookout for the Well Economy, the Innovation Group’s forthcoming trend report.