Pill poppers: Meet the four new players leading the luxe vitamins movement.
The recipe: A sprinkle of Kinfolk, a pinch of Warby Parker, two teaspoons of Sweetgreen. Shake together. Serve it direct-to-consumer. (664 words)
A sprinkle of Kinfolk, a pinch of Warby Parker, two teaspoons of Sweetgreen. Shake together. Serve it direct-to-consumer. Yields upmarket supplements.
What you’ve got before you is the formula (more or less) for what we’re calling the anti-GNC supplements movement. We’ve noticed an influx of luxe-minded vitamins upstarts of late, and they’re anti-GNC in the sense that each depart, deliberately, from the standard category messaging and positioning. All share smart branding cues, a focus on real ingredients and formulas that have a real effect, and minimalist packaging that would be familiar with most new modern luxury upstarts.
Do they work? That’s the big question. Organic touchpoints check the right boxes, and these brands are certainly tapping into the wellness craze. But we still wonder: Do the guts match the packaging?
Below, a breakdown of the four brands in the vitamin category that are leading the anti-GNC charge. Here are the ones to watch…
Location: New York
Founders: Craig Elbert, Akash Shah
Total backing: $3M seed round
Big names involved: Andy Dunn
The scoop: A slick website and UX walks you through a set of questions. The end result is a personalized pack of daily vitamins. Quality, transparency, and convenience are brought together to form a premium, contemporary take on supplemental vitamins.
Market: Daily wellness
Location: Los Angeles
Founder: Gwyneth Paltrow
Total backing: $20M total
Big names involved: Paltrow, Felix Capital, 14W
The scoop: Goop’s partnered with four different medical practitioners to formulate vitamin and supplement regimens that, as they describe it, “address acute needs of modern women.”
Market: Women; daily wellness
The Nue Co.
Location: London and NYC
Founder: Juliana Miller
Total backing: Small seed round (exact figure undetermined)
Big names involved: Undetermined
The scoop: If Byredo were a supplements company, it would’ve been The Nue Co. Supplements in powder form, rather than pills. Everything, of course, is wholly organic. That amber glass pharmacy jar is already a signature. They’re big on protein shakes and probiotics.
Market: Food supplement
Location: Los Angeles
Founder: Kat Schneider
Total backing: $5M
Big names involved: Forerunner Ventures
The scoop: Reinventing women’s vitamins with a transparent supply chain, clear bottle, and bold packaging (both in claims and in colors).
Market: Women’s daily vitamin
How they’re different from previous generation vitamins:
Packaging and branding. Their effectiveness claims aside, these upstarts represent a more contemporary refresh on multivitamins by embracing the pastel and minimalist packaging of today’s upmarket branding signifiers. A heftier pricing strategy also puts these brands in a space above their supermarket cousins.
Dispensing with the snake oil. The supplements industry has always been a little opaque (and none of the claims from these brands are subject to regulatory approval here in the US). But each is trying to mitigate ‘snake-oil’ feel that you find with traditional supplements offerings.
We’ve seen these moves before. Same product (basically), new clothes. Separately, we’ve seen a similar dynamic at play with Bevel. Tristan Walker himself has even admitted that his razors are simply a more modern take on branding the safety razor, a product that’s existed for nearly 100 years. We see the same exact scenario here with vitamins.
Some Lean Luxe subscribers have argued that the category is lacking the patents and defensible IP that can make it a truly hot market. But we know that slick packaging, a more refined user experience, and personalized service can work wonders on their own (for a little while). That, and investors dumping millions into these few upstarts, while not proof of long term success, supports that thesis.