Want to know the biggest trend in the diet and nutrition space this year? Direct-to-consumer. 2019 saw an onslaught of D2C nutrition startups launch new brands or experience breakout growth. Some newly familiar names now include Noom and Ritual, both of whom raised boatloads of venture capital to bring nutritional services directly to consumers (albeit for weight-loss advice and vitamins, respectively). But those definitely aren’t the only two making waves. Thousands of DTC brands are disrupting nutrition from every angle imaginable. From personalized nutrient subscriptions to organic produce boxes to fresh dog food delivery, it’s an exciting time to be a D2C nutrition startup.
Read on to discover the fastest-growing direct to consumer brands in nutrition and better understand what’s driving their growth.
The role of social media and the rise of influencers has helped mint many DTC nutrition startups. Rather than focus on moving inventory at grocery stores or increasing sales through a third-party site like Amazon, nutrition startups have figured out how to engage consumers directly through social media. Since influencers play such an outsized role in both beauty and personal nutrition, it’s a prerequisite for DTC nutrition startups to have a strong social media game. Social media has allowed DTC brands to emerge from nothing and amass loyal followings across the globe in months, rather than years.
The one-size-fits-all model has been officially dispelled from nutrition. Modern science has shown repeatedly that best practice for one human’s diet is unlikely to be applicable to another. Food charts seem old-fashioned now and all nutritional advice is heavily caveated and qualified based on personal needs. A number of direct to consumer companies focus on personalized nutrition explicitly — think of the example mentioned before, like Ritual and Noom — while others essentially tap into the demand for more convenience, which is a more personally-catered approach in general. A side effect of (or perhaps a direct response to?) the increased demand for personalized nutrition has been the growth of DTC nutrition startups.
These D2C nutrition brands offer a wide range of products and services aimed at promoting better nutrition. Not just better nutrition for you, but for your entire family inclusive of pets. While that may be a broad definition of ‘nutrition’, one common thread is they’ve all attracted a substantial amount of venture capital funding and traction. Don’t see your favorite on our list? Drop us a note to let us know who you think ought to be included.
|Best D2C Nutrition Brands||Overview||Offers direct-to-consumer:||Funding (VCs)||Related Reviews|
|Drizly is the fastest alcohol delivery app, bringing you booze in 60 minutes or less.||Alcohol Delivery||$69.6m Series C (Polaris Partners, Accomplice, Tiger Global Management)||Drizly vs Saucey: https://finvsfin.com/drizly-vs-saucey/|
|Somm helps support sleep. It's that simple. Drink one can 30 minutes before bed. Best of all, you can sleep easy knowing it's gluten-, dairy-, and drug-free.||Sleep Drinks||Unknown||Coming soon|
|Graze offers delivers nutritious snack boxes.||Snacks||£2m (Acquired by Unilever)||Coming soon|
|Grove is a marketplace for healthier groceries and home essentials.||Household goods||$210m Series D (Lone Pine Capital, Mayfield Fund, NextView Ventures, MHS Capital)||Coming soon|
|Hint ships fruit infused bottled water directly to your door.||Infused Water||$6.8m (VerlinVest SA)||Coming soon|
|Home Chef is a leading fresh meal kit delivery subscription.||Meal-Prep||$57m (Acquired by Kroger)||Coming soon|
|HungryRoot delivers healthy meals ready to eat in <10 minutes.||Meal-Prep||$35.4m Series B (Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital)||Coming soon|
|Noom is a leading weight-loss app for building healthier habits.||Diet||$114m Series E (Sequoia Capital, Samsung Ventures, TransLink Capital)||Noom vs Nutrisystem weight loss system review: https://finvsfin.com/noom-vs-nutrisystem/|
|Ollie is a leading fresh dog food subscription service.||Pet Food||$17m Series A (Blue Ivy Ventures, Canaan Partners, Total Access Fund)||Ollie vs Pet Plat vs NomNomNow: https://finvsfin.com/ollie-vs-petplate-vs-nomnomnow/|
|Pet Plate offers a fresh dog food subscription to keep your furry friends healthy.||Pet Food||$4m (Dane Creek Capital, SWAT Equity, The Yard Ventures)||Ollie vs Pet Plat vs NomNomNow: https://finvsfin.com/ollie-vs-petplate-vs-nomnomnow/|
|Ritual sells personalized vitamin formulations for women.||Vitamin||$197m Series C (Greylock Partners, Georgian Partners, Golden Ventures)||Gem vs Ritual women's vitamins review: https://finvsfin.com/gem-vitamins-vs-ritual/|
|Thrive is a members-only market for sustainably-sourced organic goods.||Organic Food||$161.9m Series B (Invus, Greycroft)||Online organic markets review: https://finvsfin.com/brandless-vs-thrive-vs-honest-company/|
|Freshly prepares chef-cooked, healthy meals and delivers them to your door.||Cooked Meals||$107m Series C (Insight Partners,Nestle)||Coming soon|
|Farm Fresh to You is a fresh produce subscription services that delivers farmer's market veggies and fruits on a regularly scheduled cadence.||Natural Produce||$176.1m Unknown||Farm Fresh to You vs Imperfect Produce: https://finvsfin.com/imperfect-produce-vs-farm-fresh-to-you/|
If you want to learn more about these D2C startups, we’d love to hear from you! We cover the telemedicine startups closely with many in-depth reviews comparing one brand’s offering to another. For instance, I recommend our comparison of Hers vs. Nurx vs. The Pill Club to get a feel for online birth control providers, or check out our review of Hims, Roman and Keeps for mens hair loss. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay ahead of the telemedicine trend and learn more about popular direct-to-consumer brands.
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Besides the high demand for convenience and lower prices, there are several key factors driving the rapid growth of direct to consumer telemedicine startups. Here are three:
The majority of D2C nutrition startups have merely repackaged common concepts into more convenient and accessible offerings. As an example, all healthy meal prep delivery companies simply make home cooking a couple steps simpler, while online organic markets like Thrive or Grove Collaborative simply remove a bit of guess work around shopping sustainably online. Neither offers a radically transformative service or product that’s changing what people eat.
Similarly, a lot of D2C nutrition startups have rejiggered existing supply chains to improve customer experience for existing goods. Imperfect produce, for instance, saves food from the trash by delivering it directly to your door, while alcohol delivery firms Drizly and Saucey sell all the traditional hooch brands you’ve come to love, merely saving you a buzzed jaunt to the corner store. Overall, D2C startups are growing a ton despite a lack of technological breakthroughs in nutrition. Many claim their products are well supported by science and academic research, but direct to consumerism in nutrition has been–in our humble opinion–mostly driven by innovations in the customer experience than anything else.
What’s proved true for new direct to consumer brands in general is also true of D2C nutrition startups: heavy investment in paid media is an effective way to grow brand awareness and acquire new customers. These startups are deploying large ad budgets to stay ahead of the competition, and show a high willingness to pay to acquire new customers. Investor’s dollars are shelled out for social ads, search engine optimization and SEM, as well as robust affiliate programs, and offline channels such as radio and TV.
Whether it’s a first free month from Noom, free shipping for life, or a week of free meals from Blue Apron, D2C startups in the nutrition space are using eye-catching intro offers to entice consumers. The idea is that once you try their product or service, it’ll be too convenient to give up, kind of like Uber or Lyft. For many in the ecosystem, it’s unclear how sticky their offerings really are, and whether the economics of heavily subsidizing early adoption will pan out in the long-run. But for those in ultra-competitive niches like meal delivery or online vitamin subscriptions, offering health-conscious consumers something for free may be the only way to get noticed.
While nutrition is a broad term and encompasses a lot of product categories from food to vitamins to weight-loss and more. Here are a few of the hottest markets that D2C nutrition startups are disrupting:
….And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Like most industries, nutrition startups are going direct to consumer, and it’s an incredibly exciting time to be following the space. There’s so much changing that we couldn’t have possibly covered it all — what did we miss? Comment below or drop us a line via email. Let us know if you think we ought to add your favorite D2C nutrition startup to our list. And to discover more amazing startups changing the world as we know it, check out this.
Who knows what’s next, and which companies will take off. Hopefully direct-to-consumer telemedicine startups will be able to fix some of the major problems in our healthcare system, and help patients live happier, healthier lives.
If you work in telemedicine or at a direct-to-consumer company, we’d love to hear from you. Don’t hesitate to reach out anytime, or subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about top telemedicine brands and the Direct to Consumer space!
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