Vitamins Direct is committed to improving health. The company sells a wide range of specially formulated supplements as well as the Rawleigh brand’s old-fashioned home remedies. These two, diverse product lines serve a similar purpose. “Our approach is to provide something that you couldn’t easily find on the grocery store or pharmacy shelves; something a little more unique and high quality formulations targeting specific concerns,” Marketing Manager Julie Moscariello explains. “Our focus has always been very customer-centric.”
The innovative business was founded in 1983 (as Golden Pride Inc.) in order to provide health and wellness supplements directly to consumers, during a time when these products were not readily available. “It was founded to be a multilevel marketing company at a time when direct selling was climbing toward its peak, and it was very popular to have that direct to consumer, person to person marketing,” shares Ms. Moscariello. In those pre-internet days, word of mouth was vital to promoting new products, and Vitamins Direct’s reputation spread from friend to friend throughout America and beyond.
Today, the Florida based company has grown to include branches in Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, giving customers access to specially formulated supplements throughout North America and Europe.
Vitamins Direct’s growth and success can be traced back to the company’s no-nonsense, result driven products. When the company first launched, the team developed “straightforward, simple formulas” named One, Two, Three and Four, etc., to deliver a specialized mix of nutrients in a single supplement designed to target a specific health concern. “It was a laser focused approach to improving health – naturally – back in a time when organic nutritional supplements weren’t all over the retail shelves,” Ms. Moscariello explains. Today, vitamins and supplements may be a dime a dozen, but Vitamins Direct was a trailblazer in the early 80s, before the alternative medicine movement reinvented our approach to health.
The company’s direct sales approach translated well to the internet, and the team was able to restructure their sales approach to become an online retailer. “Through the years, our strategy has changed to meet what is going on in the market,” says Ms. Moscariello. “We were a multilevel marketing company for many years and we have transitioned out of that over time because more and more customers were looking for more competitive pricing and were able to get a lot more information online. They weren’t relying on their neighbor or their friend to inform them on the benefits of the products anymore.” Teaching consumers about Vitamins Direct products’ special benefits is still important, of course, but that is now done over the internet rather than in living rooms across America. “We have shifted to educating the customer more directly.”
Although no longer done through direct selling, this educational component is as important as ever – if not more so. “The widespread use of the internet changed a lot of businesses over the years and our business is no different,” Ms. Moscariello shares. “I think one of the biggest changes is that people are making decisions on what they are reading online – whether it is true, not true, good or bad, right, or wrong. You have to make sure that the information that you are putting out there is accurate and not misleading.”
While marketing methods have changed over the years, Vitamins Direct’s commitment to providing a unique product has stayed the same. “We have always focused on giving the customer a little more choice beyond what they can find at the grocery store or the pharmacy,” Ms. Moscariello points out. “Instead of just a single ingredient formula – like a vitamin C or a vitamin B12 – we look at what a synergistic blend of ingredients might do for a particular concern a customer might have. We then look to formulate with unique ingredients to get a more desired effect out of the combinations, rather than just the standard things that are available.”
The company continues to innovate and introduce new formulas, but many of Vitamins Direct’s products have retained their original formulas. “One of the cornerstones of our business is that our products stand the test of time and continue to be used decades after they are introduced; the formulas have proven to be what the customers want. It is always good to innovate with new [products], but we also have some very strong and popular products that we have had for many years.”
Some of Vitamins Direct’s products, in fact, have stood the test of time so well that they have been on the market since the nineteenth century! In 1989, the company purchased the WT Rawleigh brand, which was launched way back in 1889 by door-to-door salesman William Thomas Rawleigh. “The Rawleigh brand brings the nostalgic, old fashioned remedy perspective. We have carried on the traditions and many of the original formulas.” Several of the products in the line remain virtually unaltered from the original formulas and include specialty foods, spices and seasonings – from Double Strength Vanilla and Black Walnut Flavoring to Black Pepper, Chicken Soup Base and Brandy Flavoring – all of the tried and true items that once lined our grandmothers’ kitchen shelves. The Rawleigh brand also covers healing products that people have trusted for generations including Antiseptic Salve for cuts and scrapes, Medicated Ointment to relieve congestion and soothe dry, cracked skin, and Camphor Balm to alleviate aches and reduce swelling. All of these old fashioned products have stood the test of time and bring a comforting nostalgia.
These products are so trustworthy that WT Rawleigh used to give them to customers for a trial run before asking for payment. “He felt so strongly about the quality of the product and how well they worked that he would leave them for testing before he would require payment. That is how confident he was in the formulas.” Times may have changed since WT Rawleigh passed out free samples in a horse drawn carriage, but the products’ effectiveness have not, and Vitamins Direct enjoys a strong following of consumers who appreciate the wisdom of using tried and true folk remedies. “It is not part of people’s daily life to come across those products, but they have such an important impact,” Ms. Moscariello remarks. “It is a unique niche. You go to the pharmacy and there are vitamins all over the place, but you don’t often see products like the Rawleigh brand.”
Looking ahead, Vitamins Direct plans to keep its classic formulas as its cornerstone products while also continuing to evolve with the market and offer new products in order to stay relevant. “Technology is increasing every year; there are always new ingredients that we can look at. It is a more rapidly evolving landscape than it was when the company was founded, and the challenge is getting ahead of the curve. There are so many more options than there were, both in product development and in marketing; there are more choices on how to proceed than ever before. That can be good, but can also be a challenge to work with all the different options available.”
Fortunately, Vitamins Direct has not been bogged down by the expanding possibilities. In fact, the team is successfully adopting new approaches, cementing the company’s future in the process. “The industry’s forward momentum is looking at new options and innovative ingredients available including new technologies for presenting them to the customer,” Ms. Moscariello states. For example, “back in the 80s there were really only two basic options for taking vitamins; you would swallow a pill or drink a liquid.” Now, consumers can find everything from gels and shakes to melting strips and gummies, not to mention the wealth of exotic new ingredients and expanding benefits.
As it did in the early 1980s when the industry was young, Vitamins Direct is committed to leading the industry into new territory while simultaneously providing classic, time tested products. “Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve and continue our commitment to customer focus and satisfaction.”