‘Our missions were very closely aligned’: Ritual’s CEO on its first foray into wholesale at Whole Foods

This story was originally published in Modern Retail, our sibling publication.

Wellness brand Ritual has entered an exclusive partnership with Whole Foods, marking the brand’s first expansion from its direct-to-consumer business.

Ritual’s suite of multivitamins for adults, prenatal and postnatal will be available at a majority of Whole Foods locations nationwide. The company is also debuting a new packaging, designed to explain the brand’s story and its mission, to coincide with the launch. Its multivitamins can range from $30 to $35 per container.

Since launching in 2016 the company focused primarily on its DTC channels, amassing over a million customers and earning over $100 million in sales in 2021. The company even opened its own standalone store in Los Angeles back in May. In this next stage of growth, Ritual is looking to acquire more customers offline and beyond its DTC business.

The company made some changes for this expansion, including a new carton for its wholesale launch as opposed to the classic clear bottles it sends to its online customers. “We had to have that story come to life more than just the bottle,” said Kat Schneider, founder and CEO of Ritual.

Schneider spoke to Modern Retail about the company’s decision to venture into wholesale and its strategic direction. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

After focusing on DTC for almost six years, what made you decide to go into wholesale?
Launching online allowed us to go really deep on traceability and allowed us to tell stories of all of our suppliers and ingredients. If you go to our site, you can see the final destination of manufacturing and the suppliers.

What held us back from going offline was how we tell that deep story of traceability the way that we’ve been able to tell it online and build those deep relationships with our customers.

Now, we’re at a scale where we did over nine figures last year in revenue and we have one of the leading prenatal [vitamins] in the U.S. We felt really confident, with the brand awareness that we have and the storytelling we’ve already done, that we could tell that that deep storytelling through the packaging and so that’s what we’ve done here.

Why did you choose to work with Whole Foods for your wholesale debut?
We had a meeting with their new CEO many months ago, and it was clear that our missions were very closely aligned so we’re really excited about it. 

At this scale, we really believe that you have to meet your customer where they are in every aspect. As we’re leading with trust and building the most trusted brand for everyday health, we really believe that Whole Foods is synonymous with high quality.

Our customer is also the Whole Foods customer.

Why did you decide to update your packaging for your wholesale launch?
If you order online, you get a mailer that’s made with recycled newsprint and you open it and there’s a bottle inside that’s clear and is made with 100% post-consumer recycled materials. On shelf, we had to have that story come to life more than just the bottle because the bottle doesn’t really tell that story deeply. So we created unit cartons… and those unit cartons tell the story that we’re telling online.

With this launch, the thing that’s present is, and you can see deeply, is the technology on the front and it hooks people in. Then on the sides of the unit carton, we’re going deeper on the ingredient sourcing traceability as well as some of the other science traceability.

You also recently launched your flagship store. What are some of your biggest takeaways from that so far?
Our vision for that store is to become profitable and I think we’re on our way. It’s been hugely successful both from a sales perspective, but then also from building our community in Venice and Los Angeles. We’ve hosted a dozen-plus events around parenthood and educating consumers on all aspects of health when it comes to that life stage.

One thing that we’re seeing is the average order value is actually higher in store than it is online, which is really interesting.

One of the biggest learnings is that… while we market more to women than men on dot-com and our marketing funnel, when someone just walks into the store, I would say [our customer demographic] is probably more evenly split than it is online.

Can you describe how Ritual’s brick-and-mortar strategy complements its DTC business?
Online is our core customer. It’s someone who’s really bought into the brand and is subscribing to really a membership experience… that’ll be the hub and still will be the largest part of the business.

What’s nice about wholesale is that new audiences will gain awareness of our brand. I think there’s a natural brand awareness bump that happens when you’re in hundreds of stores. It’ll attract a little bit of a new customer that’s really similar to our customer but may not want to subscribe online.

I do think that it will work like an ecosystem [where] someone will discover our products in store and then, if they’re really compelled to, they will eventually subscribe.

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