Welly, originally known for its colorful version of bandages and other first aid essentials, has branched out into body care.
The The 4-year-old brand has already expanded, adding over-the-counter medications and supplements to its lineup in August. The brand is sold at Target, CVS, Walmart, Wegman’s and Amazon, among other retailers.
Now, on February 5th, it will debut its first trending products at Target. To start, there will be six: Daily Hydrating Body Lotion, Eczema Body Cream, Rough & Uneven Body Lotion, Dry & Itchy Body Lotion, Acne Body Spray, and Firming Body Lotion, ranging in price from $16 to $17 . The brand chose the six body care concerns to focus on based on data from consumer data company Numerator on which are the most common among Gen Z and millennials.
Welly was founded by Eric Ryan, the serial entrepreneur known for founding the cleaning and personal care company Method and the supplement brand Olly. SC Johnson acquired Method in 2017 and Unilever acquired Olly and Welly in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Ryan remains involved in all three brands.
Ryan said he’s always taken a broad view of the brands he’s created in terms of the categories they inhabit. “First aid is basically a beauty product. It goes on your skin, it’s really the only health care product you wear, and it has a similar design and quality to clothing. It’s also about restoring your skin, which is a form of beauty.”
He said the fusion of beauty and health is an enduring trend. Throughout his career, he has taken “hints” from the beauty industry, allowing him to elevate the experience of otherwise more mundane categories such as cleansers and vitamins. But a body care startup flips the script, he said.
“This is the first time I’ve taken health and brought it into beauty,” he said.
According to Ryan, the therapeutic pathway is at a standstill. It offers products everyone needs under brands including Eucerin and Vaseline, but they’ve stayed the same. Meanwhile, other segments of the beauty industry have evolved to meet the aesthetic mood of the moment.
“Target was really excited about the idea. Therapeutics [as a category] is completely on fire. Brands there are growing like crazy. But there was this difference between the way beauty brands presented themselves and the emotional connection [with consumers]and how clinical and boring [aesthetic of the] the therapeutic space was,” he said. And that’s not to mention that traditional therapeutic brands aren’t “pure,” he said.
With all of Ryan’s brands, he strives to combine efficiency and “better-for-you, better-for-the-planet” products, he said.
Welly tapped Dr. Zion Ko (586,000 TikTok followers) to lead promotional efforts for the new collection.
“We know that talking about skin health is relevant [on TikTok]. Dr. Ko will use an educational perspective with her content to ensure that her audience and other consumers understand how the products work and what need states they address,” said Marie Mazzuco Cordal, Welly’s Communications Manager. “We also activate TikTok influencers at the medium, micro and nano scale. We prioritize the channel we know, Gen-Z consumers and millennials [are active on].”
“Millennials were the first to see health and wellness as a lifestyle pursuit, and you saw that emerge first in fitness, with [the rise of] SoulCycle and Barry’s. Then it moved to free time. It influenced the way we thought about building the Olly brand,” said Ryan. “With previous generations, like Gen X, the approach to health was more edgy: you have a problem, you treat the problem. And the Baby Boomers simply neglected their health. Gen Z is much more open, honest, transparent and direct about health issues.”
Accepting the skin care issues associated with living in the human body is the new frontier. It’s part of the message of radical acceptance that Gen Z has become known for. And it’s a message that’s resonating across the beauty industry right now, whether it’s through Starface’s eye-catching pimple patches or Megababe’s shameless approach to previously stigmatized body care issues, including the “fluffy scrub.”
“With these products, we’re saying, ‘Don’t hide from body acne and these different states of need where previous generations would just hide it and not talk about it,'” Ryan said. “That’s why we bring bright colors to it [the packaging]make it a little more than a holiday.”