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No Filler Necessary: YourSuper's Strategy for Success

July 12, 2022
July 12, 2022
YourSuper

The wellness supplements market can be murkier than a green juice smoothie. As an article in The Atlantic states, “Supplements—which the FDA regards more like foods than drugs—can go straight to market without providing evidence of efficacy or purity.” Last month, the FDA launched an education initiative on dietary supplements, and in 2021 announced efforts to further regulate the market. “As the popularity of supplements has grown, so have the number of entities marketing potentially dangerous products or making unproven or misleading claims about the health benefits they may deliver,” stated FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. While warning letters have been sent out to companies making false claims and stricter regulations around ingredients such as phenibut and DMHA have been enforced, the vast landscape of the market means there is still plenty of undiscovered territory.

In the case of beauty supplements, they are predominantly the results of private-label manufacturing, with little brand oversight on the source of the ingredients going into the products, emphasizing price rather than efficacy. A lack of bioavailability drastically reduces the way beauty ingredients can benefit the body, with many losing their potency by the time they reach the gut. Marketing claims are overseen by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), which allows statements regarding improvements in body function and structure (as opposed to just appearance), if the company can provide adequate evidence to support them. Exceptions to this rule are disease treatment or SPF protection claims. Regulatory proceedings have been on the lighter side when it comes to this product segment, but there is potential for increasing scrutiny as the category gains more widespread consumer and industry attention.

This attention is evident in the growth of the ingestibles consumer markets, with the global wellness supplements market expected to reach $386.29 billion by 2029, displaying a CAGR of 6.45%. The nutricosmetics sector is expected to reach $15.6 billion by 2030 and the ingestible beauty market $8.3 billion by that year. 79% of a 3,500 consumer-strong McKinsey survey across six countries had 79% of respondents citing wellness as important, and 42% a top priority. The report notes “the magnitude of the shift [towards natural/clean products] is striking,” pertaining not just to skincare brands, but also ingestible products.

A review on diet and skin aging found that anti-aging ingredients in food have threefold benefits: participation in the metabolism and synthesis of skin components, relieving skin oxidative damage, and maintaining the skin’s structural integrity. In short: beauty isn’t just a case of the ingredients we put on the skin, but also what we put inside our bodies. And with soil nutrients and therefore the vitamins and minerals in mass-available food being 38% lower than in the 1950s, we need all the help we can get.

But given the aforementioned lack of regulations, not to mention clever marketing of overpriced products, where are consumers looking to internally improve their wellness as well as looks? For Your Super, the answer goes back to (not so basic) basics. A B Corp–certified, plant-based superfood mix brand, the company aims to take the guesswork out of healthy living.

When co-founder Kristel de Groot’s husband and (and fellow founder), Michael Kuech, was diagnosed with cancer at 24, she was determined to help him rebuild his health post-chemotherapy. What began as a DIY mix of Whole Foods’ finest became the prototype for the brand’s first product, Super Greens. As a self-described “health nut,” the healing powers of nutrition were second nature to de Groot, but witnessing Kuech’s slight puzzlement at the superfoods section sparked the concept for Your Super. “I realized there are a lot more Michaels in this world: people who do want to be healthy but they don't necessarily understand what all of these ingredients are or where to begin,” she recounts.

The company launched in 2014 in Holland and Germany, relying on influencer deals as its marketing method, reaping the benefit of their broad reach. Surprisingly, 10% of their orders were coming from the US, a thoroughly saturated market in the supplements sector. De Groot reached out to their stateside customer base and found that many were drawn to Your Super due to the products being stevia free. “That is still something very rare because in a lot of superfood powders, it's always sweetened right away. Our mixes are made of five or six different superfood powders blended for a specific function—that's it,” she explains. “The other piece is the way we are sourcing.” All ingredients are certified organic, gluten-free, glyphosate-free, non-GMO certified, and devoid of artificial flavors, fillers, sweeteners, additives, and preservatives. For example, the wheatgrass the company uses is sourced from Germany instead of China, which, while resulting in a higher production cost, also equates to more intense taste (and benefits). To counteract the intense algae notes of chlorella or mushroom taste of reishi, Your Super adds in natural components such as baobab or cinnamon, rather than artificial ingredients, for a satisfying experience instead of  sacrificing flavor.

Consumers have certainly been responding well to Your Super’s offerings, with the company making $60 million in revenue last year. The company also extends those earnings in benefit of those less fortunate, partnering with The People Concern and Action Against Hunger to donate a food bar for every product purchased, resulting in 1.6 million gifted units to date. In 2018, de Groot and Kuech expanded Your Super into the US and, as of last year, are focusing on an omnichannel approach—a drastic change given that 95% of their business was previously D2C.

The company launched on Target.com with a rollout to over 500 stores. “Target is so important to us because that’s our core customer, not someone who lives in a city with a juice bar on every street corner, but very normal people: moms or working professionals who are very busy, all across the country,” de Groot proclaims. Aside from Target, Your Super has also gained placement in CVS  stores nationwide, 2,000 Sprouts outposts, and 700 Vitamin Shoppe locations.

The company’s main investor throughout these growing stages has been PowerPlant Ventures, which has also funded the likes of Beyond Meat, Thrive Market, and supplement brand Rae Wellness. For Your Super’s Series B funding, PowerPlant invested $10 million. “Raising money along the way was a conscious choice. There are two ways to grow a business: we went the way of growing really quickly where we needed more cash in order to reach more people,” she says.

Offering customers a holistic, broad approach to wellness that remains relatable not only in price but concept is an integral part of the company’s success. “The brand was more than just the product, it was the means of people wanting to improve their health. Within our email marketing and socials, a lot of what we did was teaching people how easy healthy eating can be,” de Groot remarks. As the company grew, so too did its product offerings, with more niche focuses such as the probiotic-based Gut Restore for digestive health, or the bestselling, female-focused Moon Balance. “We were one of the first truly natural options using adaptogens like shatavari and maca to help women start balancing their hormones, whether for menopause or PMS. There was definitely a gap in the market,” she adds. De Groot sees a blossoming future in the female health wellness space, spanning all ages and life chapters, and fine-tuning Your Super’s offerings to the needs of those stages.

“There’s this huge opportunity, hand-in-hand with women empowerment, to look at female health in the food space specifically. Yes, we all want equal rights, but true diversity is also accepting and understanding our differences. That also plays into products as well,” she notes. Given the “striking sex-dependent differences in response to dietary supplementation,” as well as a “legacy of male bias within pharmaceutical research, regulation, and commercialisation,” de Groot’s insights illuminate the underacknowledged demand for beauty health products created with, not just for, women.

Your Super currently offers a Forever Beautiful and Plant Collagen mix: one filled with antioxidant-rich berries such as acerola cherries, açai, blueberries, and maqui; the other with aloe vera, tocos, tremella, and pea protein to boost hydration and cell regeneration. While Your Super currently finds its Target shelf space in the nutrition aisle, de Groot is setting her sights on the beauty supplement space. As a gray zone between a food and beauty product, Your Super occupies an interesting niche. “From a branding standpoint, the beauty space is already so much further. The nutrition space is catching up, and it’s interesting to see,” she states. “I could see us going in a more beauty-focused direction next year, it would be more about raising awareness. We sell to women between the ages of 25 to 60+, and I often see that it's a slightly younger group that really understands and is interested in a concept of beauty from within.” The concept of beauty from within is indicative of the evolving relationship between beauty and wellness, and the continued merging of both spheres.

Beauty brands may have less credibility in this space given the lax regulations around claim-making in comparison to the nutrition industry, but also often make a more compelling visual argument than food products. As consumer self-education increases, brands will also need to have independent verification of their claims. “A lot of people question, does it really work? I don't have to argue whether fruit or vegetables are making you healthy, and these ingredients have been used for so long that the knowledge is just there,” she says. This straightforward approach is certainly appealing amidst the foggy landscape of marketing language, but Your Super wants to go one step further.

Your Super displays the efficacy of its products in black and white. The enterprise recently partnered with clinical research organization CitrusLabs to showcase the hard evidence for the results of its 5-Day Detox program, which incorporates the company’s Detox bundle (a set of 5 different superfood mixes). 86% of participants in the detox trial reported feeling healthier and 78% less bloated, with 84% stating they would recommend the program to a friend. De Groot and Kuech are currently awaiting the clinical trial results for Moon Balance.

It’s this commitment to transparency and efficacy, and a foresighted approach to wellness, that are integral to Your Super’s burgeoning business efforts, as well as empowering consumers to take charge of their health and beauty with all-natural methods. After all, in a sea of increasing complexity, the land of simplicity is a refreshing sight.

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