Welly, originally known for its colorful take on bandages and other first-aid essentials, has segued into body care.
The 4-year-old brand had already expanded, adding over-the-counter medicines and supplements to its assortment in August. The brand is sold at Target, CVS, Walmart, Wegman’s and Amazon, among other retailers.
Now, on February 5, it will debut its first topical products at Target. There will be six, to start: Daily Hydration Body Lotion, Eczema Body Cream, Rough & Bumpy Body Lotion, Dry & Itchy Body Lotion, Body Acne Spray and Firming Body Lotion, ranging in price from $16-$17. The brand selected the six body-care concerns of focus based on data from consumer data company Numerator about which were most common among Gen Z and millennials.
Welly was founded by Eric Ryan, the serial entrepreneur known for founding cleaning-supplies and personal-care company Method and supplements brand Olly. SC Johnson acquired Method in 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 looked at the brands he’s created broadly, in terms of the categories they inhabit. “First aid is, at the heart of it, a beauty product. It goes on your skin, it’s really the only health-care product that you wear, and it has like this design and apparel quality to it. It’s also about repairing your skin, which is a form of beauty.”
He said the merging of beauty and health is an enduring trend. Throughout his career, he’s taken “cues” from the beauty industry, which have allowed him to elevate the experience of otherwise more quotidian categories like cleaning supplies and vitamins. But the body-care launch flips the script, he said.
“This is the first time, I’m taking health and bringing it into beauty,” he said.
According to Ryan, the therapeutics aisle has stagnated. It offers products everyone needs, by brands including Eucerin and Vaseline, but they’ve stayed the same. Meanwhile other segments of the beauty industry have evolved to meet the aesthetic vibe of the current moment.
“Target got really excited about the idea. Therapeutics [as a category] has been absolutely on fire. The brands there have been growing like crazy. But there was this gap between how beauty brands are presenting themselves and emotionally connecting [with consumers], and how clinical and boring the [aesthetic of the] therapeutic space was,” he said. And that’s not to mention that, traditional therapeutics brands are not “clean,” he said.
With all of Ryan’s brands, he has sought to combine efficacy and “better-for-you, better-for-the-planet” products, he said.
Welly has tapped Dr. Zion Ko (586,000 TikTok followers) to lead the promotional efforts for the new collection.
“We know conversations around skin health are relevant [on TikTok]. Dr. Ko will take an educational lens with her content to ensure her audience and other consumers understand how the products work and what need states they’re addressing,” said Mari Mazzucco Kordahl, Welly’s communications manager. “We’re also activating TikTok influencers on a mid-tier, micro and nano scale. We’re prioritizing the channel we know Gen-Z consumers and millennials [are active on].”
“Millennials were the first to view health and wellness as a lifestyle pursuit, and you saw that show up first in fitness, with [the rise of] SoulCycle and Barry’s. Then it moved into athleisure. It impacted how we thought about building the Olly brand,” Ryan said. “With previous generations, like Gen X, the approach to health was more acute: You have a problem, you treat the problem. And Baby Boomers just ignored their health. Gen Z is so much more open, honest, transparent and direct about health issues.”
An acceptance of the skin care issues that come with living in a human body is the new frontier. It is part of the message of radical acceptance that Gen Z has become known for. And, it’s a message that is ringing throughout the beauty industry right now, whether it’s via Starface’s attention-grabbing pimple patches or Megababe’s no-shame approach to formerly stigmatized body-care concerns including “chub rub.”
“With these products, we’re saying, “Don’t hide from body acne and these different needs states, where previous generations would have just hid it and not talked about it,” Ryan said. “That’s why we’re bringing bright colors to it [the packaging], make it a little bit more of a celebration.”