Jordan Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Ancient Nutrition, says his company's expansion into multivitamins and probiotic-based immunity products last year happened because consumers were asking for such basic micronutrient formulations. Now, a surging interest in immunity has driven the company to put more emphasis on the category. Read on to learn about the new product line and increasing consumers' knowledge about immunity.
New Hope Network: Ancient nutrition is most well known for bone broth and collagen. How did this immunity line come about?
Jordan Rubin: We launched an entire line of multivitamns about a year ago, and so we did have some of what you call the letter vitamin supportive products. And much like everybody else in the space, as soon as COVID-19 hit we saw a huge spike in vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc sales.
We also have an additional formulation we call Ancient Multi Immune, which picked up sales tremendously, and we had had an Ancient Probiotics immune formula that did the same. We, along with everyone in our space, saw that uptick, and because of the challenges of supply of premium ingredients that happened in the acute phase, we wanted to rush to get back in supply not only with vitamin C, but with some additional immune herbal type formulas.
And though Ancient Nutrition doesn't lead with immune forward formulations, we had elderberry, we had zinc and vitamin C and vitamin D. They all sold very quickly and what we decided to do was create a four-product suite and get it to market as quickly as possible to meet the demand from our customers.
What can the Ancient Nutrition brand bring to the immunity space?
We’re very excited about these formulas because they're all simple and they're all affordable. They also use, I would say, a formulation strategy where we take "internal scrubbing" methods to heart. We have four formulas, two are Ancient Nutrients and two are Ancient Herbals, one being elderberry the other echinacea plus astragalus. We have a probiotic that we call a soil-based organism, but the organism itself is bacillus subtilis and bacillus subtilis is amazing for its ability to rapidly colonize the gut and support what we call gut-related immunity.
If you look up the research, it has the ability to create compounds that allow the prevalence of pathogenic germs. We feel very confident that combining these immune-boosting vitamins, minerals and herbs with this powerful internal cleanser, this probiotic, is unique and gives consumers a dually effective way to support their immune system health.
What did you do to introduce consumers to this new aspect of the brand's identity?
Ancient Nutrition has an omnichannel approach, and we really lead with our digital or direct-to-consumer platform, so we have determined through surveys and consumer behavior that our customers want foundational formulations and that include vitamins, minerals, etc. Both Dr. Axe and myself have knowledge and are passionate about herbs; over the last two years we launched an herb line primarily online in addition to vitamins and minerals.
However, [the herb products] were not as core to the Ancient Nutrition brand, but we felt like with everything going on in the world we could put an Ancient Nutrition twist on the immune system category. And we feel very confident that the products will deliver the safety and efficacy that people are looking for.
How are consumers responding so far?
It's been great. With the way that things have been going, there is an interest in embracing whatever you can buy. That's vitamin C, zinc, elderberry and echinacea. As we speak, we are launching our new four formulas. We expect those to be extremely successful. We had already been planning on launching a line of immune system formulas this fall, we just simply moved that up in the timeline.
But we're not looking at immunity formulations as a flash in the pan. We're looking at this as a long-term strategy. We think we can add something valuable to the marketplace, and we're really excited about digging in. So you're going to see not only these four formulations. We’re going to make a stronger push and try to make a mark on on this subcategory of products in the remaining balance of the year.
Regarding convincing consumers to see immunity supplements preventative maintenance-dose products, do you see the pandemic making that an easier sell?
Yes, absolutely. We’ve been through multiple challenges in the last 10 years, whether it be West Nile virus, SARS, bird flu, swine flu and then there was MERS. This one has become so much more public, so much more in our face, and it is impacted the world much like 9/11. Bombings involving airlines changed our travel experience forever. I believe that this pandemic is going to change the way people consume supplements, and I personally believe that most people are going to look for a maintenance-focused immune system formula to consume on an ongoing basis as they would a daily multivitamin. I would never have said that before.
Consumer sophistication around immunity is not very deep. What kind of education are you offering right now to change that?
People are flocking to vitamin C because they know vitamin C. If you're more astute as a consumer, you know that elderberry is a good ingredient. And some people have heard of zinc. But when you're getting into the finer points of gut-related immunity, that requires education. So over the next week we're going to be delving into the different areas by which you can activate your immune system and eventually have a full-on campaign that more or less states that immune health starts with gut health.
We launched multiple television programs under the title Optimize Your Immune System. We launched an ebook that consumers could download for free. We recorded a webinar. Through television programming, webinars and our e-commerce and digital platform, we've been trying to educate people not just on products, or even ingredients, but on the entire holistic view of immune system support. Additionally, we have published multiple non-promotional articles on DrAxe.com that contain content about ways to boost your immune system through what you eat and drink.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.