Vitamin supplement startup Care/of is expanding into the beauty category with the launch of six new products, including collagen ingestibles.
Over the last five years, supplement companies have gravitated to the beauty category, bridging a gap between wellness and beauty products. Today, skin-care brands like One Ocean Beauty and Murad offer ingestibles, while supplement brands like Olly and Centrum offer beauty-focused vitamins. When traditional vitamin retailers like GNC and Vitamin Shoppe have floundered, the beauty supplement category has been used to right ship. The beauty supplements category is expected to balloon to $6.4 billion by 2024, according to Goldstein Research.
Alongside the beauty product launch, Care/of has developed a new 14-question online quiz to recommend products and provide authority in a still-unregulated segment.
“Customers find beauty advice in a lot of different places and products from different brands, and are piecing it together bit by bit,” said Verma. “We have seen how confusing the experience can be, so we are trying to bring a level of guidance to this.”
Since its launch in 2016, Care/of has had over 5 million people take its core online quiz, and its sales increased 200% year over year in 2019, said Craig Elbert, Care/of CEO. From that basic quiz, the company found that 74% of people select skin and hair health, in addition to other topics, as a reason for taking supplements, said Verma.
Care/of is relying on its app features, such as push notifications, to encourage continued use of its beauty products. The app also routinely serves up editorial content about product results after customers input that they’ve started taking a supplement. Care/of’s core customers are between 25 and and 40 years old, and more than 50% of them are women, said Anu Verma, Care/of’s vp of marketing.
“Some people are led to believe there is a magic pill, so we are trying to provide products that are clinically researched and to provide more in-depth information about the ingredients,” said Dr. Maggie Luther, ND, Care/of’s medical director and formulator.
The information Luther described includes clinical studies that Care/of looked at when creating its products. However, Luther said Care/of does not conduct its own clinical studies on final formulations.
Collagen, the most common beauty supplement ingredient, is a lightning rod for debate. According to Grandview Research, the collagen-infused food and beverage market will grow 7.1% by 2025, thanks to the ingredient showing up in everything from water to protein bars. Still multiple dermatologists commented that there is not enough reliable evidence to support collagen’s efficacy.
“On a daily basis, about 50% of my patients ask if drinking a collagen drink is beneficial,” said Genevieve Vielbig, a nurse at med spa Just Ageless in New York City. “I tell them, if it makes you feel better, then keep drinking it.’ But there is no scientific proof that it has collagen-stimulating benefits.”
Verma said that Care/of provides its clinical research sources to customers and shares through product pages and in its app how long a supplement needs to be taken. Meanwhile, the Care/of app has a reward-based system to encourage prolonged use of products; the app rewards users with “carrots” when they take their vitamins, which can be exchanged for coupons for free products.