Goop’s summit becomes more accessible as it goes virtual

Known for four-figure ticket prices and experiences like shaman crystal rituals and aura photography, Goop’s signature In Goop Health summit is going virtual for the first time due to Covid-19. 

The ninth In Goop Health wellness summit by Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand will be exclusively online via a livestream on September 12 using Vimeo; additional recorded videos will be available to ticket holders for three weeks. At $50 for a full-price ticket and a diverse range of speakers, the event aims to be more accessible after being described in earlier years as predominantly attracting privileged white women

The pandemic has increased interest in wellness among the broader public, said Goop chief content officer Elise Loehnen.

“Historically, people have said, ‘Oh, wellness is for the idle wealthy.’ Or there’s been this idea that it’s not relevant to day-to-day life, that it’s about fads,” she said. “What Covid has thrown into relief is that actually staying on the right side of the wellness spectrum is what we all need to be focused on.”

Programming will be divided into three categories titled “Think,” “Move” and “Feel,” and will include a combination of panels, Q&A sessions, conversations and classes. The classes will include a beauty master class with Goop’s beauty director, Jean Godfrey-June; talks on Ayurvedic eating and managing burnout; a tarot reading; and Gwyneth Paltrow’s signature celebrity talk, featuring Laura Dern.

As usual, beauty will be a central part of the event.

“Our biggest emphasis is usually on skin, but also that holistic feeling that there are many things that affect the way your skin looks — your diet, supplements, exercise,” said Godfrey-June. “We talk about it in that context.” Beauty content and products that have been especially popular on Goop during the pandemic have reflected the DIY trend, including at-home hair dye, manicures, facials and skin-care devices highlighted in popular relevant articles via the brand’s “contextual commerce” model. Goop’s in-house brand Goopglow has had the site’s top-three overall best-sellers in beauty during the pandemic: the Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator, Morning Skin Superpowder and 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel.

What is lost this year are the in-person treatments and services that the Goop events have become known for. In the past, those have included ear piercing, massages, vitamin B12 injections, yoga classes, sound baths, spiritual cleansing and the opportunity to sample the latest health food trends.

While consumption of Goop content around anxiety especially spiked at the start of the pandemic, readers are currently interested in health-related topics, said Loehnen. 

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in the immune system and what helps a strong immune system,” she said, as well as how diet connects to mental health. She noted that growing interest in wellness has been heightened by the fact that the U.S. health-care system has been “entirely focused on disease management” and “acute medicine,” rather than overall health. “Until we have a better health-care system, we all owe it to ourselves, if we are well, to stay well,” she said. “Many of these healing traditions that are focused more on wellness are not Western.”

According to Loehnen, the in-person Goop events had “become more of a brand moment than a business moment.”

“It’s our chance to really talk to people and get to know the people on the other side of the computer screen,” she said. 

Ticket holders watching through their computer screens this year will gain some access to the community feel of the events through a private Slack group for the event. Prior to the pandemic, branded events had become increasingly popular for brand community-building, with Credo Beauty adding a consumer-facing event to its own clean beauty summit in 2020. Goop had expanded from Los Angeles to a range of cities over the past several years, including New York, San Francisco and London. 

In Goop Health’s price tiers this year are significantly lower than in years prior. The last summit, held in San Francisco in November 2019, was $1,000 for an event ticket or $4,500 for a weekend that included hotel costs, dinners and special programming. 

Currently, $50 tickets are still available, while the other two tiers are sold out. These include $5 tickets, which were limited in quantity and “intended for community members who are part of marginalized groups,” and a $200 pass that includes a kit with Goop and other beauty and wellness products. Sponsors this year include Ketel One, Puma and New Chapter supplements.

The virtual event is significantly more scalable without the attendance limitations of the in-person summit, which had 650 attendees at the 2019 San Francisco event.

“It will definitely be, by far, our biggest audience,” said Loehnen, with ticket sales in the thousands. So far, people from nearly all 50 states and from 16 countries have bought tickets. “It’s been a huge expander for us, in terms of being able to reach people who normally just wouldn’t be able to get to New York or L.A.” Prior to the pandemic, the brand had been experimenting with more accessibly priced in-person events including an Austin fitness event with a $150 ticket price.

With the social movement of this summer spurred by the killing of George Floyd, the brand is especially cognizant of diversity this year, as past events have been called “shockingly white” by media in attendance. Nine out of its 15 confirmed presenters are BIPOC, including fitness guru Keisha Villarson, Golde founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford and Pro Hoe founder Penda N’diaye.

Called apolitical in previous years, Goop has voiced support for Black Lives Matter and posted resources on police accountability, political and legal action and other advocacy organizations. It is also in the planning process for stocking more Black-owned brands, said Godfrey-June. The site currently sells eight Black-owned brands including Golde and Nyakio.

Throughout the pandemic, the brand had already been hosting weekly In Goop Health live events once a week. Loehnen said video of the in-person event had been offered online in the past, but this year, Goop opted to make content available for a three-week period, rather than require everyone to log on at the same time.

“We all have Zoom fatigue,” she said. “We also didn’t want people to feel like they were taking themselves out of their everyday lives and sitting in front of a computer for the Saturday, in order to consume it all at once. They’re not time-pressured to consume it all over the course of the day.”

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