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Bobbie launches supplements as it expands beyond baby formula

Baby formula brand Bobbie is entering a new category as it looks to become a bigger player in pediatric nutrition. 

Bobbie is launching two new types of supplements that aim to address common pediatric deficiencies. The products, a vitamin D supplement and a probiotic supplement, are drops that can be mixed into formula. This launch represent Bobbie’s first products outside of formula.

Bobbie launched in 2021 as a direct-to-consumer subscription-based infant formula startup. As of 2022, the majority of baby formula sales in the U.S. went to conglomerates Abbott, Reckett Bensicker and Nestle, according to Euromonitor International. But Bobbie saw a huge spike in interest and demand over the past few years, particularly during the nationwide infant formula shortage in 2022, when it expected growth to quadruple. In fact, Bobbie had to temporarily limit new subscribers as recently as January, as it is still struggling to meet all of the demand.

Bobbie has sought to innovate in the space through products and marketing campaigns that speak to parental experiences that haven’t historically been acknowledged by industry incumbents.

Last June, it teamed up with breast pump maker Elvie on a Target campaign to promote “combo feeding,” or giving both formula and breast milk to babies. And now, it looks to become a trusted authority in pediatric nutrition more generally. 

“People who are in the industry sometimes call supplements the ‘Wild West,’” Sara Ahmed Holman, chief commercial officer at Bobbie said. “There’s a plethora of options, [but] there’s no education around it.” Ahmed Holman recalls being a new mom and going to her doctor’s office one day and being told that she needed to start using vitamin D. 

“I remember being delirious, exhausted, having not slept,” Ahmed Holman said. “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do — there’s all these different amounts of vitamin D, I didn’t know how many drops I was supposed to use… there was no education around it.” 

Leslie Schrock, a tech investor and the author of “Bumpin’: The Modern Guide to Pregnancy,” said that when it comes to infant supplements, “the brands that are on the market right now are kind of a little random.” 

She added that “a lot of the moms that I know, and that I interact with… whether it’s [on] WhatsApp or Facebook or Reddit… know that vitamin D is an issue for breastfed babies.”  Meanwhile, some pediatricians recommend probiotics to calm colicky babies.

But there’s no one go-to place for parents to buy these supplements. Schrock said that for many new parents, the process of figuring out exactly what vitamin D or probiotics to buy (if their doctor recommends it) often involves going to Amazon and seeing which products have the best reviews. 

“Outside of Amazon reviews, there just isn’t a lot of solid information about this category,” she said. “I’m also going to be curious to see what Bobbie does to educate parents, especially first time parents, on this product,” she added.

Some formula brands do contain probiotics. But Ahmed Holman said that selling it as a separate supplement allows parents to add in probiotics only when necessary, rather than having to switch from a non-probiotic formula to a probiotic formula when their baby starts showing symptoms of colic.

Ahmed Holman said that Bobbie is creating mobile-first videos featuring health care providers to teach new parents how to use these supplements. She said the goal was to create a content format that parents “would want to use in the middle of the night, when you’re trying to figure out, like ‘oh my god, this baby hasn’t stopped crying.’”

For now, the supplements are only available through Bobbie’s direct-to-consumer website. Target also carries Bobbie’s formula. 

For the past couple of years, Bobbie has been particularly focused on growing its manufacturing capacity. In 2022, after the infant formula shortage in the U.S., Bobbie pledged to invest $100 million to increase infant formula access by 2030. And last year, the company acquired Nature’s One, another U.S.-based formula company, which gave Bobbie access to a new manufacturing facility in Ohio.

Ahmed Holman said that as Bobbie looks to release more products, the focus will be on meeting the needs of parents in a variety of ways, and acknowledging that “the feeding journey” for infants is unique. 

“I think every product that a customer will see come out of Bobbie [will be] based on our mission of supporting and giving confidence to parents in their feeding choices,” Ahmed Holman said.