CPG Playbook   //   January 11, 2024

Kate Hudson shares how her supplement brand InBloom prepared for its first retail launch in Whole Foods

InBloom, the nutritional supplement brand co-founded by Kate Hudson, is emerging from its direct-to-consumer origins this week with a debut at 400 Whole Foods locations around the country.

But first, the brand trimmed its product line, revamped its packaging and lowered its price before scaling up to a national presence. Once served in white glass jars for around $50, InBloom’s powder mix products now come in colorful biodegradable pouches for $34.99. With three supplement-style blends and two protein flavors, each has a specific purpose — like a cognitive boost — and can be mixed into water or other beverages.

“Before we hit the market in retail, it was this great year of really reformulating not the products, but how do we want it to look on the shelf when we get into retail? What products are we really going to zero in on and share in retail?” Hudson told Modern Retail. “We were like, ‘Let’s get purposeful and specific.”

InBloom launched in 2020, a moment when health and wellness products began to take off amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, the company has seen a 25% customer repeat rate. And while the company wouldn’t share units moved, it has claimed “millions in revenue” since launch, sailing on the wave of people adopting protein and supplements into their daily lives.

Hudson, whose workout and athleisure line Fabletics remains a DTC brand, said a retail expansion was always on the horizon for InBloom. But this may have happened sooner than expected due to changes in the online adverting landscapes like Apple’s iOS14 update. Back then, a DTC strategy could be field by online and ads and algorithms.

“We had this projection of where we wanted to go, and then it kind of started to change,” she said. “It was more about us trying to figure out when the right time was, and and how we were going to enter the space.”

Now live, the Whole Foods launch will be coupled with brand new marketing from InBloom, which wiped its old Instagram posts to reflect the brand changes. It will continue DTC sales, though after revamping its website to reflect the new color schemes and product imagery. To promote the changes, the brand is also running a “golden ticket” campaign, with winners getting the opportunity to win a trip to a Wellness Summit with Hudson.

A functional frenzy

Founded in 2020, Hudson said InBloom was “my answer to starting a beauty brand.” Rather than dabble in skincare, makeup or fragrance, she said she wanted to create a functional product that helps drive cultivating wellness from the inside out. But this trend has blossoming throughout the CPG world, with more adaptogenic products as well as better-for-you energy drinks like hitting store shelves.

An increasing number of these are also celebrity-backed brands; Venus Williams co-founded the nutrition brand Happy Viking that has gained investment from other athletes like golfer Michelle Wie West and soccer star Megan Rapinoe. 

Jessica Young, founder and CEO at Bubble Goods, an e-commerce marketplace for health foods including supplement and protein powder brands, said interest has swelled in the “dehydrated” drinks categories — like powders or tablets. Bubble is soon to launch LivPur, a supplement brand from pro golfers like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

Young credits the popularity to how easily the powders can be stored, transported and mixed. There’s also a trickle-down effect of other product trends, with reusable water bottle  sales taking off in recent years. Whether that’s Hydroflask, Yeti or Stanley, “people are looking to fill their fancy cups,” Young said. 

From that perspective, InBloom is designed to appeal to beginners in the world of nutritional supplements, as well as those who are looking for something pure and efficient. They can be mixed with water, or blended with other ingredients. Hudson said the goal for this product design was to give people something accessible and affordable that didn’t feel like a daily chore.

InBloom’s goal, Hudson said, is “to create opportunities for people to get excited about it, without feeling like being healthy or going on a health journey is this sort of daunting task.”

Prepping and scaling

Hudson said Whole Foods made sense as partner given its national footprint and focus on quality ingredients. But going from a small online DTC brand to a national chain required significant scaling changes.

That included eliminating several products, including a sleep powder and immune booster. It kept its collagen-based Beauty Aura, its green Essential Elements and a Lion’s Mane-stocked Brain Flow, plus chocolate and vanilla proteins.

Colin Peek, InBloom’s other co-founder, said the brand chose to keep those products because they made up to 80% of sales. Yet they also may ahem the most mass market appeal.

“These are really foundational powders, nutritional powders, that you can take every single day for overall health and wellness and vitality and well-being,”  Peek said.

Peek said InBloom worked with the merchandizing consultants at Green Spoon to help prepare operationally for the launch, as well as take on new financing. The brand had spent nearly two years in talks with the manufacturers of the biodegradable pouch that InBloom now comes in, and having the Whole Foods launch In the works became a deadline to complete that process. While the original white glass containers were reusable and recyclable, the new packaging material — which Hudson dubs the “omnipouch” — biodegrades into organic mass and CO2 and will be lighter to ship.

There’s also a practical benefit to the new set up. In the glass jars, the product at around $50 could be considered a far-fetched impulse buy on a store shelf, while the pouch at $34.99 is more in line with other supplement brands.

Peek said that scaling up in time for the Whole Foods launch was also doable because the majority of manufacturing is done in facilities in California and Canada.

“We were able to keep a pretty tight supply chain and looked out for ways we could keep it more efficient,” Peek said. “That allowed us, I think, to move pretty nimbly and pretty quickly when the opportunity was there.”