Built on collagen
Youtheory, founded in 2010, was one of the first supplement brands to go all in on collagen, which up to that time had been mostly a constituent of topical formulations. It was one of the brands that helped to build up the beauty from within marketing idea in the United States, which has been slower to catch on than in other jurisdictions.
Along the way, collagen became a sports nutrition player, too. Launches of collagen products in meal replacements and sports nutrition formulations started outpacing beauty-from-within launches around 2016, according to market research firm SPINS.
Collagen is the chief protein building block of the connective tissue matrix that supports the skin and is a major part of the architecture of other organs as well. It is estimated that 25% to 35% of the whole body protein content in mammals is made up of collagen.
“It’s what provides structure in the body, and we know that as we age collagen depletes very gradually over time,” said Dr Nick Bitz, ND, said.
Youtheory has experienced rapid growth and announced in 2015 that it was building a new headquarters space in Irvine, CA. The company had beefed up manufacturing and staffing in the first half of that year and at that time was producing 30,000 more bottles per day compared to the same time frame as 2014. The company also opened a second manufacturing plant in 2016.
Expanding the product line
Bitz, who has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University, said part of his mission at the company has been to help bring on new ingredients that have significant scientific backing. Bitz has a background in product development from a previous stint at supplement manufacturer Irwin Naturals. The company has branched out into products that incorporate ingredients such as maca, turmeric, ashwagandha and shilajit.
“Collagen was definitely our heritage and foundation. We took a sharp right turn when I entered the company. Six years ago that was pretty much all we did was collagen,” he said.
Youtheory has now branch further with its latest product launch into the immune health category with a new formulation that incorporates 250 mg of Wellmune, a branded yeast-derived1,3/1,6 beta glucan ingredient manufactured by Irish firm Kerry Group.
Wellmune has a long development history. In 2015 Kerry bought the dietary supplement application rights to the ingredient from US-based developer Biothera, which continues to work on a pharmaceutical application of the ingredient under the brand name Imprime PGG.
Bitz said the shelf full of data backing the ingredient is one of the things that sold him on Wellmune. Biothera had been researching the ingredient for almost a decade before the Kerry transaction.
“There is no other ingredient that is a long-term, every-day ingredient that works in this way,” Bitz said. “What can you do to support your immune system and not overstimulate it? Wellmune has been shown to prime the immune system, to put it on high alert, without overstimulating it.”
Bitz said the new product also offers a full daily dose of vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc as well as including a blend of medicinal mushrooms.
“This product was created well before the coronavirus hit,” he added.
Having the continuing line extensions is helping Youtheory grow its distribution base, Bitz said. In that regard, the company has an unusual history he said. It started big, and now is working its way back down the food chain, so to speak.
“Youtheory started out in Costco, which is kind of unique. We’ve had to sort of work backwards to grow the company. We continue to put a lot of emphasis on growing in teh natural channel and now we working on food-drug-mass. Most importantly, we’ve grown internationally. We have just launched in Europe and we’ve launched in Japan. And we have been focused on launching in China,” he said.