WelleCo, the wellness supplement company co-founded by Elle Macpherson and Andrea Horwood, is opening its first U.S. store on Thursday.
The Australian brand is touching down in New York after seeing that more than 50 percent of its sales were coming from the U.S. WelleCo operates one store in Australia and, following the New York store, the brand will also open a store in Los Angeles in 2019. Overall, New York, L.A., Miami and Houston represent the largest markets within the U.S. for the brand. As the wellness and ingestibles market has exploded over the past few years, 4-year-old WelleCo has seen rapid expansion and is now sold in over 190 retailers across 93 countries, including Barneys New York, where it launched in March as its first U.S. retail partner. But e-commerce sales through its own website still account for 80 percent of the brand’s sales.
The expansion for the brand comes at a time when the beauty supplement market now accounts for $89.6 million in sales in the U.S. alone, according to market research firm Euromonitor International — representing a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent from 2012 to 2017. WelleCo took this opportunity to make a greater push into the U.S. market, according to Andrea Horwood, co-founder and CEO of WelleCo. WelleCo will also launch at Sephora in October as an “anchor brand” for the retailer’s own growing wellness push, she said.
Overall, the flagship stores are designed to allow the brand to reach its customer in person and provide more high-touch education, she said. This coincides with a larger trend of direct-to-consumer brands expanding into physical stores, allowing potential and current customers to experience more from a brand. The store will offer appointments with nutritionists, a smoothie and tasting bar, demonstrations by chefs, and a monogramming service for the brand’s water bottles, to offer a more personal touch.
“It’s not a brick-and-mortar strategy, but a flagship strategy,” Horwood said, meaning that all future stores will act like a traditional flagship store in terms of importance and in-store offerings, rather than as an exception among a bigger network of stores. “Our direct customer model is important to us not only because we know our customer, but because we also directly communicate with them,” she added.
The brand plans to use the flagship store as a way to launch new products, including its upcoming nutritional supplements in October, which will only be available in WelleCo stores and online. The physical location is key for the brand to control how customers are educated, something it has always prioritized; the brand produces all of its own digital content with the help of its own copywriters and digital team, for example.
“We wanted to show these boosters in store and have nutritionists in store to help people [learn],” she said. “Transparency and communication are so important for brands, especially with digital communication today. People need to know who the brand is and where they’re coming from.”
To prepare for the store opening, the brand is relying on traditional print advertising in publications like Vogue, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as on billboards near the SoHo location. In addition to creating all of its own content, the brand also eschews using influencers to drive brand awareness. Part of this motivation is that, with a supermodel at the helm, there is little need to rely on other high-profile relationships, Horwood said. But as the brand continues to grow, reaching new customers where they are physically, in addition to digital word-of-mouth, is how the brand plans to actively market itself in the U.S.
“The timing is right for us – we think the brand, our product and our communications are [coming together] at a time where it’s now appropriate to connect with new customers,” Horwood said.