Care/of – A Case Study. Nlumn Nsights 2024 Vol 2. Issue 4.

Thought Leadership


Team Nlumn

Care/of winding down its operations came as a shock after their rapid growth led to Bayer buying a majority stake in the company for $225 million just for years ago. Our recent newsleter highlights what they did well. Below are thoughts on the lessons we can learn from Care/of and opportunities for future innovations in the rapidly changing personalized nutrition market.

The simplicity of the Care/of program was a benefit for securing new customers. However, was the program enough to maintain users? Care/of could have benefitted from other personalized services once someone was onboard. For example, offering additional testing to support understanding of their biological needs and, in turn, supporting sales of additional products. Providing coaching or other support services may have been another opportunity. Our research shows that nearly two-thirds of personalized nutrition program users don’t get the support they desire. This can lead to people off-boarding if they aren’t getting the results they want.

Supplements alone may not deliver against consumer expectations. Supplements can be an important part of a personalized nutrition solution. At the same time, Care/of may have missed an opportunity to look at health more holistically. Our research suggests that personalized supplements are highly adopted by consumers interested in personalized nutrition. There is also a high degree of overlapping interest in personalized supplement use and diet, exercise, and other wellbeing and healthy lifestyle practices (more than 80%). A more holistic approach to drive lifestyle changes may have helped Care/of deliver a more comprehensive consumer experience to better meet expectations.

While Care/of highlighted positive consumer outcomes to their program, their science seemed to focus heavily on existing publications. Care/of had an opportunity to build the evidence base for their product solution with one or more meaningful benefits to consumers. They could have then expanded to other research areas by integrating testing and coaching. They missed the opportunity to build intellectual property and points of differentiation as other companies began to enter the personalized supplement space.  

A key Bayer strategy for Care/of was to help make their supplements price competitive and expand to more channels. On face value, this would be a great way to reach more consumers. However, online at Amazon or in retail at Walmart, you are subjected to multiple products with similar benefits, often at a more affordable price. Without a clear point of difference, it may have been easy for Care/of customers to purchase another brand of the same supplements.

There are likely several other issues and considerations that led to Bayer’s decision. It’s important to note that Bayer is facing some of its own struggles. It can be difficult for large companies to integrate start-ups under the best circumstances, so given Bayer’s challenges, a need to refocus may not be surprising. While it’s sad to see the fall of Care/of, we need to keep in mind that the personalized nutrition industry is evolving rapidly and what enables a company to break through may not be enough for it to sustain success. Care/of broke through with a lower cost, low barrier solution and was rewarded with Bayer's investment. This is a call to action and an opportunity for the future of personalized nutrition innovation. Together, let’s build meaningful business models that align offerings and proof points with current consumer views on health and wellness at the point of sale and evolve with user changes in health and wellbeing needs.  

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