“Now is a time when health is top-of-mind for a lot of people, whether that’s on purpose or subconsciously,” said Nina Mullen, on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, speaking at Beauty Inc’s inaugural virtual Wellness Summit.
“We see people investing a lot more time — either because they have more time on their hands or because they’re just more interested than they have been in the past — in their health routines,” continued Mullen. She’s the cofounder and co-chief executive officer of Hilma, which specializes in natural supplements, creating alternative versions of popular over-the-counter remedies.
Consumers are exploring self-care more than ever, she said. And at the onset of COVID-19 in March, “there was a real transition to immune support.”
Prior to the pandemic, buyers were purchasing a single sachet of the brand’s immune support product to test it out. “Post March, we started seeing three-plus units per order,” Mullen added.
The supplement is made using zinc, vitamin C, echinacea and ginger, among other natural ingredients. Research is backed by science, which is “at the core of everything that we do,” said Mullen.
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The team includes a board of scientific advisers, “MDs, Ph.D.s, an ethnobotanist and herbalist,” who co-create all formulations. All ingredients have “a wealth” of clinical research behind them.
“We’re not going to be bringing the hot new ingredient to market, but our customers can come to learn and trust us to only provide them with products and ingredients that are proven to work,” continued Mullen.
The brand also invests in conducting its own clinical studies: “[It’s] to foster that relationship and that trust with our consumer that we actually do care about science, and we’re putting it to the forefront of everything that we do.…For our core customer target, we know that efficacy is incredibly important to him or her.”
Mullen describes that target customer as “the new mainstream.” It isn’t the wellness expert, who may have been an early adapter, nor the wellness skeptic. It’s the individual in the “growing middle,” who is open to natural products.
“That’s who we aim to serve with Hilma today,” said Mullen.
Using in-house research, the brand is continuously checking in with customers and their needs. During the pandemic, Hilma launched a “listening initiative” to better understand how buyers were feeling during quarantine and how their wellness behaviors were possibly changing.
“What we found is people are investing a lot more time and money in themselves than they have even in the past,” shared Mullen.
It’s important for products to be easy to try and fit into routines, while staying at an “accessible” price point to reach a more mainstream consumer, she said. A kit of the brand’s three main products — targeting immune support, upset stomach and tension relief — starts at $25. And those who subscribe receive 10 percent off of each.
“Customers have really come to expect that their loyalty will be rewarded,” said Mullen.