Influencers are trying to make gummy supplements sexy

Gummy vitamins have been on the rise since at least 2016, but it’s influencers who have taken the category to new heights.

When Olly launched five years ago, it sold gummy vitamins for sleep, stress and skin. They were created to target concerns and were marketed accordingly, rather than based on the ingredients they contained. The brand reimagined supplements not as something found in dusty drugstore aisles or GNC, but instead as lifestyle products that can be celebrated as part of one’s wellness routine.

“Olly was founded to disrupt the vitamin and supplement aisle, [with] both its more unique gummy format and its fun and engaging packaging,” said Mari Mazzucco, the brand’s PR and influencer manager.

Today, the brand has 144,000 followers on Instagram and works with celebrities to promote it, including Lana Condor, Kaley Cuoco and Rebel Wilson. It also works with beauty professionals like Mario Dedivanovic and Jen Atkin. Influencer marketing has served as a “key vehicle for awareness and brand loyalty,” Mazzucco said. “Influencers have served as important spokespeople for our brand, because we know that when you try and experience Olly, you instantly become a fan.” 

The Kardashians-Jenners, especially Kim and Kylie, have done countless sponsored posts for Sugarbear Hair and its telltale baby blue gummies. The company was registered in 2015 and, in the past six years, has amassed 2.9 million followers on Instagram, undoubtedly thanks in part to posts by the famous family.

Flash forward to 2021, and a new spate of brands is being launched by influencers themselves. Gummies, it seems, are the perfect vehicle for an influencer brand. They’re fun, tasty and allow an influencer to promote healthy skin or sleep through their personal brand.

And the category is booming. Nestle acquired Nature’s Bounty for $5.75 billion in April.  Olly, for its part, was acquired by Unilever in 2019 for an undisclosed price. Though supplements as a whole are more popular than ever, the gummy category lends itself to the current, social media-obsessed moment. For starters, gummy supplements can feel like eating candy, which, for some, can make creating a habit easier. Whether or not they are actually good for you is an entirely different question and merits case-by-case product examination.

In June, attorney-turned-entrepreneur Felicia Hershenhorn launched Imarais with influencer Sommer Ray, who has 26.6 million followers. On the day Imarais launched, Ray posted a nude image of herself with the gummies dotting her spine. The post got 1.8 million likes.

Ray wrote a long caption introducing the product: “Hiiii my babies! So every day I feel motivated to be my most authentic self and express positivity and only bring you guys things I’m passionate about and believe in. Often I’m asked for my skincare routine, but I’m reluctant to answer because traditional skincare hasn’t really worked for me. Sooo over the last year, I created a way to work smarter, not harder for my skincare.” 

“I was working as a lawyer, and I had a 15-step skin-care routine that was overwhelming me. I was standing in front of the mirror one day, and was like, ‘This is not working anymore. I’m putting way too many things on my skin, and my skin is congested and just disgusting.’ So I went looking for an alternative solution,” Hershenhorn told Glossy. 

As Hershenhorn embarked on the formulation process, she came across Ray. “I saw Sommer, and her skin is fantastic. [So I got in touch and asked] what her what she’s using, and she said she had never been in the beauty space. She wasn’t repping anything. She had never promoted anything,” she said. They quickly hit it off and decided to partner on their own gummy brand.

The resulting formula, which they worked on for a year, features marine algae, vegan squalane and Activated-C, a trademarked form of Vitamin C. “The vitamin and gummy (nutraceutical) market is experiencing huge growth, and it’s a trend that we believe will only continue to rise. We straddle the nutraceutical market, but also beauty,” Hershenhorn said. She projects sales for the first year will be in the $5 million range.

Hershenhorn and Ray aren’t the only influencers getting in on the gummy game. Lilly Ghalichi ( 2.9 million Instagram followers) of “Shahs of Sunset” co-founded Hairtamin with Leyla Milani Khoshbin (1.5 million followers) in 2016. Before launching the brand, they frequently talked about hair-related topics on their social platforms. That included “different styles, our personal tips and tricks, our favorite hair products, and most importantly the struggles we both endured with our hair that ultimately led us to creating Hairtamin,” Ghalichi said, referencing postpartum hair loss and hair extension-related alopecia. As a result, the brand made consumers of its followers, she said. “The brand genuinely resonates with both of our followers, because it’s something we are both so passionate about and have always focused our pages on.” 

Jacqueline Stoner (3,000 followers) and Alex Jay (29,000 followers), co-founders of Bite & Co, also saw an opportunity to create gummies targeted for skin concerns versus overall “skin health.” The brand launched in November 2020 with four skin-focused SKUs. Lighten Up uses apple cider vinegar for skin and gut health, Baby Face is rich in antioxidants to protect skin from the inside out, C-food offers greens for skin brightening, and H2Glow is rich in plumping, hydrating hyaluronic acid and vitamin D. 

“Influencers and social media have a huge impact on everything,” Stoner said. “Social media gives influencers a space to share their day-to-day life…which makes them super relatable. People who follow them want to know what products they’re using and what the new trends are. More often than not, they want to try it for themselves. Bite was definitely able to gain popularity through the power of social media, because influencers showed how easy it is to incorporate [the gummies] into your daily routine. Beyond that, they could see and hear for themselves the results these influencers were experiencing.”

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