“I was taking gummy vitamins at the time and my mom said no one is doing the personalized vitamin pack in the gummy space,” he told NutraIngredients-USA.
The format he was referring to was the increasingly popular use of single-serve sachets filled with a customizable variety of supplements and the name of the subscriber printed on them, sent right to the subscribers’ doorstep. Other players in this space include New York-based Care/of and vitame, neither of which have gummy options.
There’s the new household-name gummy supplement brand Olly that has a subscription option on its online store, but its products don’t come in single-serve sachets, which Adair argues helps with consumer intake compliance. “I think that gummy vitamins are a very good way to do that: Swallowing pills can be inconvenient sometimes, and it’s hard to stay consistent with inconvenience,” he added.
Building a brand from scratch, and making subscribers stay
Together with college gym-buddy Nik Hall, the two founded Vitafive in 2015. Initial funding came from personal savings and competition cash awards at their university. Inspired by their drive, business mentors met through internships or on-campus helped the founders navigate the world of finding investors.
“We raised six figures in the first round, and we’ve just been using that money ever since,” Adair said. The company’s concept was simple: Subscribers create a profile and choose which supplements (up to five out of eight) they want to subscribe to every month.
Just shy of two years old since the two young founders registered the company, Vitafive is modeled to reach as many consumers as possible. Their gummies are all pectin to be able to include vegetarians (and five out of the eight gummies are vegan).
To date, they have subscribers in the lower thousands, with a majority of them staying 10-12 months on their subscriptions. His secret to keeping retention?
“We’re very interactive with our customers,” he said. “I put my business card and write a hand-written letter to every new subscriber.” Adair isn’t sure how long he can keep this up, considering his company’s growth, “but this is very important to me.”
A family experience
Adair’s mother used to send him gummy supplements with his care packages. “When you’re in college, you don’t really look at your diet,” Adair joked. This reflected the subscriber demographic the two founders eventually started focusing on: Women with families.
“At first we thought our kid packs would sell like crazy, but the majority of our buyers are women from around mid to late 20s and mid to late 30s,” he said, citing the company’s subscriber data. “More of a Millennial mom, and one out of five would add on a pack to their husband or child, so we have the advantage of making it a family experience.”
The vitamins one can choose from are melatonin, omega-3, multivitamin, vitamin D3, vitamin C, calcium & D3, biotin, and the newly launched probiotic, which replaced a poorly performing CoQ10. The company has received many requests to include vitamin B and pre-natal offerings, which it is planning to do.
Adair is confident in the company’s growth trajectory, partly because of his confidence in the staying-power of gummies as a delivery format for nutrition, as well as how easily it can be shared to help increase awareness around the company
Many of his subscribers end up asking for additional packets because they’ve gone through their monthly amount before month’s end, mostly because they gave it to a friend or family. “No one is going to give a pill pack to their friends and say, ‘hey, try this,’” Adair said.