And that's developing 'boosts' with ingredients or nutrients that aren't daily essentials, she told NutraIngredients-USA. The two-year old, online-only company recently raised $10.5m in Series A funding led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, the VC with a portfolio that includes Spotify, Facebook, and Airbnb. With the new funds, Ritual has new product development on its agenda.
“Our philosophy around developing new products is fairly straightforward. For nutrition, we look at what people are actually missing from their daily diets and try to fill those gaps with ingredients that have a wealth of studies and clinical research behind them,” she said.
“We started with the reinvention of the multivitamin for women because as women, we felt like the market was opaque and somewhat of a black box—as we set out to build future products we will look to expand that same philosophy to other lifestages for women as well. You will never see us developing ‘boosts’ with unproven ingredients or products that are not used daily; we are focused on the daily essentials,” she added.
Continued investor interest in dietary supplements
The funding reflects continued investor interest in the supplement and nutrition category, such as KKR signing a deal to acquire majority stake in Nature’s Bounty last month, or Hong Kong’s richest man backing Florida-based sports nutrition company Celsius Holdings with $16m.
“It’s certainly time for change,” Schneider said, commenting on the influx of investment into dietary supplement firms.
“A lot of the audiences legacy businesses serve are mostly 50+ and while there is tremendous need for that age group, I think it’s been really interesting for us to have customers who are mostly 18-34,” she added.
Just one product, but a focus on habits
Since it first enrolled subscribers in October 2016, Ritual only offers one product—a multivitamin with nutrients which data say US women are often lacking, such as vitamin K2 MK7, boron, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.
But it’s the branding and customer service which grabbed both media attention and subscribers, Schneider said. “We are selling more than a vitamin; we're selling a habit. What’s interesting about Ritual is not just the reinvented product but the reinvention around how you interact with a product every day,” she said.
An interactive website has a profile for each ingredient that goes into the product, including details of the manufacturer, what the ingredient derives from, and what studies have suggested its benefits are. The subscription model and single-serve packaging encourages consumer compliance, she added.
Next steps for Ritual: technology and clinical trials
In addition to product development, Ritual is looking to improve in-house technology and customer experience and support.
The absence from store shelves and focus on online sales was deliberate, and the company plans to invest more on its website and consumer/subscriber engagement programs. “We have a direct relationship with each and every one of our customers through our social channels as well as email communication,” Schneider said.
“And it turns out these mechanisms we’ve built are already working quite well—close to 70% of our customers say they are better about taking Ritual than other daily vitamins. Where we are going to invest heavily in is making it easier than ever to form a habit.”
Technological upgrades aside, Ritual is also looking to support research. “We’ve invested heavily in research and data," Schneider said. "In the future, we plan to invest in clinical studies and academic partnerships.”