Executives at three well performing brands—Reserveage Organics, Youtheory and Hum Nutrition—spoke with NutraIngredients-USA about growth in the category and how best to connect with consumers within the space. One thing on which all agreed—the market is growing faster than the overall dietary supplement space. Whereas the indications addressed by some other categories, bone health or gut health for example, aren’t the sort of thing that get consumers excited, they are intrigued by what healthy aging/beauty from within products can potentially do for them and are actively seeking information about them.
Where does beauty fit?
First a caveat; for Walter Faulstroh, founder and CEO of the Hum Nutrition brand of dietary supplements, lumping the two together doesn’t make perfect sense. Trying to maintain a healthy, youthful, beautiful appearance isn’t something that appeals just to an older demographic. Consumers of all ages are buying into the concept that prophylactically attacking the appearance maintenance problem earlier in life is a good idea.
“A lot of our consumers are quite young, they are in their 20s,” Faulstroh said. “But I think healthy aging and beauty-from-within are really quite different. We play in three sectors: skin, body and lifestyle. Healthy aging is not something that people can connect to easily, but something that can benefit their skin is.”
Like many entrepreneurs in the space, Naomi Whittel, founder of Reserveage Organics, came to the category via personal experiences battling a skin condition in her youth. Whittel, who is now CEO of Twinlab following that company’s acquisition of Reserveage, said years ago when she started delving into natural products there was very little available from American companies addressed to consumers like her.
“The products I was using were coming out of Southeast Asia, out of Singapore, and out of Europe. When I started Reserveage in 2009 I really wanted to be able to share what I had learned over the previous decade with US consumers,” she said.
“Just a couple of years back the global market for beauty-from-within products was more than $4 billion but when I got into the category less than 5% of that was being done in the United States. And I learned pretty quickly that that had everything to do with the quality of what was being sold here. The products were antiquated, with no cutting edge science. Companies were just selling basic products like collagen for skin and joint health,” she said.
“We decided to launch beauty-from-within products with customized science with demonstrated benefits of how they could impact the health of the skin. What’s fascinating right now is that the category has really stared to catch on here in the US. The projection is that it could grow to $7.4 billion globally by 2020,” Whittel said.
Among the focused benefits that Whittel said has driven Reserveage’s success has been the science that German collagen supplier Gelita has amassed to support its collagen ingredient. Whittel said she has a strong commitment to using branded ingredients that are backed by studies to support claims on the label. Generic products with generic ingredients have been part of the category’s lethargic performance in the past, she said.
“Collagen as part of beauty-from-within has grown by 38% for us over the past year,” Whittel said. “It’s a collagen that was scientifically developed to actually work with the fibroblasts within the skin. It has a customized group of amino acids. If you buy a generic collagen off the shelf you don’t necessarily know that kind of amino acids are in there. And we like to use a collagen that is micronized in a way that the body can actually absorb it.”
“I think it’s important to use trademarked ingredients. It’s like buying a designer brand, and in our space it means that this ingredient has some real science behind it,” she said.
Darren Rude, CEO of fast-growing brand YouTheory, said the ‘beauty-from-within’ discussion has become almost passé. It’s one of the terms used in the industry that had been bandied about so much (perhaps the term ‘superfruit’ might be another?) that it no longer means much.
“I’m pulling away from beauty-from-within. I started with that 10 years ago, but I don’t think it means much anymore. That’s why we trademarked the slogan, ‘Age beautifully, age strong,’” he said.
Collagen has been a strong performer for YouTheory, which has made a big splash in Costco warehouses and other retail platforms as well as in online sales. But surprisingly, it’s not the top seller, Rude said.
“The foundation of the brand was to take a supplement brand and make it more of a beauty brand that something that looked like a pharmaceutical type brand. To begin with we were focused more on women than on men, until we came out with our men’s line. We sell more collagen than anyone else in the market, but our No.1 selling product now is not collagen, it’s turmeric. We sell more turmeric than anyone else, too,” he said.
Rude, like Whittel, said that a commitment to branded ingredients is an important part of his company’s success. For his turmeric supplier, Rude turned to Sabinsa and its C3 Complex curcuminoid ingredient, which he believes is the best in the business. Rude said he has had a long relationship with Sabinsa founder Dr Muhammed Majeed and has watched the science behind the ingredient develop.
For Reserveage, the benefits of resveratrol has been one of the pillars of the brand from the beginning. This polyphenol, long researched for its specific ability to mimic the age-protective benefits of extreme caloric restriction and for being the ‘secret’ behind the Mediterranean paradox, has had a roller coaster history as some of the many studies behind the ingredient were withdrawn and suspicions were raised that the ingredient was perhaps overhyped. Whittel said her commitment to the ingredient has never wavered, and that persistence is paying off.
“Resveratrol in the past 12 weeks is up by 14% for us. For a while it was not keeping pace with the industry but it is picking up again,” she said.
Rude said he has a family history in the food business, including in packing pickles for some of the big name brands, that led him to a surprising foundation of his company’s success, and that is innovation in packaging. A discussion with top management at Costco led him to inquire why supplement brands insisted on putting things into round bottles covered with stodgy labels. Products for beauty ought to be beautiful, he thought.
“The CEO of Costco told me if we could put our product into a square bottle they could sell a lot more of it. More product fits on the shelf, and on the pallet. Supplement brands had said that you have to have a round bottle so you can label it, so it can run on a production line. I spent the money to engineer a line that could run a square bottle and label it,” he said.
Rude designed a packaging concept where each bottle’s label forms part of a larger image when stacked on the shelf, almost like a puzzle piece. When stacked together the products form an attractive billboard-like display that can be seen from a distance in the long sight lines that characterize the warehouse setting.
“I told Dr Majeed that if we got into Costco with a product packaged like this that we would become his No. 1 customer for curcumin. And that’s what happened,” Rude said.
Shifting market dynamics
Rude’s emphasis breaking into the warehouse market as opposed to going for a more traditional brick and mortar footprint first and on the appearance of the product struck a chord with Hum's Faulstroh, who battled his own skin problems as a youth. He said that beauty is a visual concept, and consumers are interacting with products in new ways. Getting something onto the shelf at Whole Foods, once the pinnacle for a natural products brand, was never a big priority for him. The market is changing, and online information sharing and online sales forming an ever bigger piece of the pie, and these changes may be happening more rapidly in this sector than in others. Faulstroh said in his opinion if a brand is touting its positioning in Whole Foods or one of the big box players, it’s probably a brand that is missing the big growth in the market.
“When you look at social media, people don’t just speak about makeup. They speak about lifestyle, what they are eating. On Instagram its all about the visuals and telling a story in a visual way. Food trends do incredibly well on Instagram. Looks do matter in social media,” he said.
“The goal is if you do your homework and you get the science right and get the claims right you get a product that people will want to buy again and again. We are all about word of mouth and recommendations,” Faulstroh said.
That instant message sharing has been part of what has helped the category ramp up so quickly in recent years in the US, Faulstroh said.
“I think globalization definitely helps here with trends quickly spilling over from one market into another,” he said.
Experts from Nutrilite/Amway, Atrium Innovations, Unistraw and CosmeticsDesign-USA will discuss the science, market, and consumer expectations at the upcoming NutraIngredients-USA Anti-Aging Forum on July 28. For more information and to register for free, please click HERE.