When she was four months pregnant, Katerina Schneider noticed the ingredient list on the bottle of vitamins her doctor had recommended contained some ingredients, like titanium dioxide, she had tried to excise from her lifestyle to protect her baby’s health.
It was then that she began to question whether it was possible to create a vitamin containing everything she wanted — and could verify the ingredient supply chain — and eliminate everything she didn’t, titanium dioxide included. That spurred the idea for Ritual, one of many in the new class of “clean” vitamins considering themselves more akin to wellness than health. And now, two years later, Ritual is branching out with its second product, this time focused on mothers-to-be. In doing so, it’s joining other vitamin-wellness brands now offering products to prenatal and pregnant women, including Olly, Persona (previously Vitamin Packs) and SmartyPants Vitamins.
Overall, dietary supplements have become one of the larger categories of wellness, which represents a $30 billion a year market, despite being a historically opaque industry that is unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration and has faced continued skepticism and scandals. Studies have shown they don’t increase longevity and sometimes do not even contain the intended main ingredient, which reaffirms that wellness is not the same as medicine.
“When we launched our company [in July 2017], we were surprised to have so many prenatal vitamin customers,” said Jason Brown, founder and CEO of Persona, adding that although there was a traditional prenatal multivitamin that launched with the company, Persona was not actively marketing to that audience. Persona offers customized vitamin packs based on a questionnaire. Brown said he “absolutely” considers Persona to be a wellness brand because it is focused holistically on a person’s health, rather than a specific medical concern. Since launch, the company has also introduced a second version of prenatal vitamins in January, called the Foundational Pre-Natal Multivitamin, which has seen sales grow consistently in the last year.
Because of the increased interest for the prenatal vitamin packs, Persona also revamped its website in January to create a dedicated landing page for prenatal people with navigation prominently displayed on the homepage and expanded its questionnaire in September to include more in-depth questions about pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Ritual — which hopes to “bring the conversation of ‘health’ back to wellness” through ingredient transparency and a holistic focus, but has also faced scrutiny for “tricky” ads proclaiming benefits (which the company said it no longer runs) — plans to reach prenatal women with online video content and education on the prenatal experience. The company interviewed dozens of women about their experience trying to conceive and the time they discovered they were pregnant, and what they knew and did not know about prenatal health and nutrition.
“When companies are marketing to you around pregnancy-related issues, you’re already pregnant and sharing that with the world. But when you are trying or it’s very early, it can be lonely and no one is speaking to you,” Schneider said.
Although Schneider declined to state how many subscribers Ritual has or its cadence of growth, she said she sees prenatal as a significant opportunity for growth due to the consumer group size. The company partially gained prominence through its decidedly Instagram-friendly wellness vibe, consisting of clear bottles and pills resembling tiny snow globes, and the overall goal is for Ritual to be seen as a brand that serves all stages of a woman’s life and grows with her, Schneider said.
“We want to offer one product that changes through her life stages, so she just takes one [brand of] vitamin and it evolves with her depending, on her life stage,” she said.