Wellness has become an important touchstone of consumer health, reaching a record value of $5.6 trillion in 2022 with a projected annual growth rate of 8.6% over the next five years. As a multifaceted realm, ways of practicing it vary from free and easily accessible practices such as meditation and outdoor walks to extravagant high-end retreats. The latter presents a challenge in terms of financial capital and time needed to access it. Beyond such a high-end example, general access is an important aspect when it comes to the growth of wellness culture, ranking as the most valued aspect in the EY Global Consumer Health Survey 2023. Another survey found that 37% of consumers believe there is an insufficient number of products and services for sleep and mindfulness, while nearly a third wanted more access to other wellness dimensions like fitness, nutrition, and health.
Direct-to-consumer wellness brand Apothékary, which specializes in herbs and tinctures to aid immunity, sleep, gut health, skin health, and more, is looking to broaden access to its offerings with an innovative new partnership. The enterprise has teamed up with TrueMed, a platform that allows Health Spending Account (HSA)/Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds on items that improve health such as supplements and exercise, acknowledging these as qualified medical expenses through a letter of medical necessity adding in the payment flow. With 80% of workers having access to such funds, that equates to $140 billion in untapped spending across the US.
Their joint forces are creating savings of up to 30% per customer, who simply enter their HSA and FSA debit card details during checkout and complete a short health survey to determine eligibility. The activation can be used across Apothékary’s entire product catalogue, including gut and digestive support tinctures and energy/mental clarity support powder blends. The brand is the first plant medicine enterprise to offer this service. Since the option was introduced in September, 20% of daily transactions on the Apothékary website were made using FSA/HSA funds, a majority of them being new customers. The brand also reports larger average order value overall, with an estimated 10 to 20% increase in annual revenue as a result of the activation.
Access to effective natural herbal remedies is at the heart of Apothékary’s brand mission. “By adding FSAs/HSAs as a means of payment, we’re making herbal medicine and plant remedies more widely available to customers who may have been on the fence, skeptical, or just couldn’t afford it out of pocket. Customers have this money that they either don’t use or are forced to use on things they don’t need at the end of the year before it expires. This option allows them to actually make wellness and preventative health care more top of mind,” founder Shizu Okusa comments.
Okusa, a former Wall Street trader, was inspired to seek wellness solutions after leaving her job in the Financial District after experiencing burnout. Her entrepreneurial journey began with founding cold-pressed juice company Jrink in 2013, which was acquired by Purée Juice Bar in 2020. That same year, she set up Apothékary, combining Eastern medicine (driven by her Japanese heritage) and natural solutions with science-backed efficacy to help consumers “swap pills for plants.” Products come packaged in glass jars with refillable pouches to reduce carbon footprint, while personalized quizzes and one-on-one consultations with clinical herbalists and a mobile app for dosing plans help customers navigate the product assortment.
The company closed a $3.5 million seed round in November 2021 to accelerate retail expansion in the UK and Canada, as well as increase product innovation and customer experiences. That same year the brand was projecting $10 million in sales, with shipping to 23 countries worldwide and recurring subscriptions constituting one third of the business.
Okusa sees this cross-industry partnership as a key in driving change when it comes to improving health access on a personal and industry level. “We recognize the significance of collaborating with diverse industries to create a more impactful and holistic approach to wellness, and ultimately tapping into a potential new customer base,” she adds. “But perhaps more importantly, we’re collaborating and are opening a larger dialogue with like-minded brands, healthcare providers, and medical professionals to bridge Eastern medicine with Western healthcare, something that Apothékary is the first to do. We take these partnerships very seriously, even if they are incredibly time and resource sensitive; the long-run brand equity and value it brings to customers is unquestionable.”
Its founder is investing in that value for the future with Apothékary launching clinical studies in 2024, as well as more than 10 new products to address women’s health, sugar and glucose, sexual health, aging, and weight management. To further enhance the company’s impact, it will be partnering with a European consumer health conglomerate on a sexual health product. In the US, four partnerships with other health and wellness brands are planned, as well as a retail launch in late 2024.
“At Apothékary, we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to enhance their well-being and live a healthier lifestyle. Democratizing access to wellness products means breaking down barriers, whether they be financial, geographical, or cultural, that might prevent individuals from taking charge of their health,” Okusa concludes “We believe that so many of the over-the-counter supplements and unregulated products/supplements found in the drug store are harming our bodies—investing in the education and science behind the herbs, while also working with partners like TrueMed, is our life’s work at Apothékary.”
2 Article(s) Remaining