“The thing about the gummy business in particular is you have to have enough scale, just given the manufacturing parameters,” Brad Harrington, CEO and co-founder of Olly, told NutraIngredients-USA. “You turn on a machine—you spit a lot of gummies, so we started off with a large national footprint to get our foot in the door, and Target is that partner.”
Olly came right in time to jump on the gummy bandwagon. As The New York Times reported, citing IBISWorld data, gummy products overall now account for $1 billion of the $41 billion supplement market in the US in 2016, a more than 25% jump in sales since 2015.
“Our growth has been exceptional as you can imagine by looking at the door count,” Harrington said, declining to mention and specific numbers as Olly is a private company. “At this point, we’re one of the fastest growing CPG companies in the country.”
What is Olly doing differently?
Harrington brought industry know-how when he started Olly with Eric Ryan, who has a background in non-food CPG when he founded the now-ubiquitous cleaning products company Method. Harrington was the chief marketing officer of nutrition company Shaklee, bringing in health and wellness savvy to the Olly duo.
The space that the two wanted to carve out was in creating an ‘inspiring brand’ within the gummy supplement category. “The reason why we really leaned in to the gummy side of things is I’m one of those guys that really hate taking pills,” Harrington said. “When I came across the form early-on it piqued my interest.
“But what we had to do early on is push our manufacturing partners to really innovate,” he added. “Up until that time it was really just multi, and maybe fiber. We wanted to go into all of these other spaces.”
Today, Olly’s portfolio of gummies includes omega-3, energy, sleep, and probiotic. It’s even expanded beyond the gummy format to release probiotic sticks and smoothies.
Cute ‘counter-worthiness’, easy-to-understand claims
But to get where Olly is today, marketing focused a lot on creating cute, approachable brand that Harrington described as having ‘counter-worthiness,’ making the product physically attractive in package design.
Additionally, claims of what each vitamin was formulated to do are displayed prominently on pack, such as the probiotic blend ’Balanced Belly,’ melatonin and L-theanine ‘Restful Sleep,’ or vitamin D3 ‘Hello Sunshine.’
The clarity of the benefits paired with the gummy format helps with consumer compliance in taking their vitamins. And while many nutritionists (and dentists) remain sceptic about the gummy format for vitamins, Olly maintains that it helps many US consumers meet their nutritional intake requirements.
“It goes back to the old ‘a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,’ because ultimately supplements you don’t take don’t do you any good,” said Taryn Forelli, head of innovation at Olly.
“Most of our products are 2 or 3 g [of sugar] per serving, it’s not like they’re sitting down and eating a whole bag of gummy bears,” she added. “They’re just a small little morsel of delight.”