Care Of and Ritual are two of the latest multivitamin companies to start making a buzz in the hypercompetitive supplement market. Both of these companies take a unique approach to vitamin supplementation (both offering subscription models with a unique twist).
Typically, in our experience, subscription service companies are most concerned with marketing, customer experience, customer retention, and recurring revenues. Especially recurring revenues. In this article, we compare two such companies, TakeCareof.com and Ritual. Although we devote significant time to these companies’ philosophies and go-to-market strategies, we also do a deep dive into their multivitamin offerings, their quality, price-value relationship, and recommend specific products based on consumers’ wants and needs.
A Unique Start-Up – TakeCareof.com
To illustrate our point, we take the example of the TakeCareof.com product launch. The founder of the company, Craig Elbert, a Wharton School grad and former executive at e-retailer Bonobos, and his co-founder, Akash Shah, knew the best practices in an online business startup. In a most unusual step to gain consumer insights before the actual launch of Care/of products, the team created and launched a throwaway company, Beets Vitamins.
The fake mocked-up Beets website, similar in structure and content to the intended Care / of launch, supposedly sold individuals customizable vitamin and supplement products. The customized offerings were based on responses to a two-minute survey addressing age, diet, lifestyle, and health goals. “Consumers proved willing to impart with basic information to ensure the products they put in their bodies were correct.”
Only after analyzing the Beets’ results, perfecting their marketing and approach, and hiring two supply chain experts from P&G-owned vitamin product company New Chapter did Elbert and Shah introduce the real, formal TakeCareof.com online presence. Backed by an additional $14 million in VC money raised in 2017, the company expanded its product offerings to include Multi’s and Letter Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics, Protein, Collagen, and Herbs. Shipping on personalized orders has been streamlined, additional corporate employees hired, and a partnership with Target for brick-and-mortar distribution is in place. To ensure those recurring revenues are realized, the company has created an Android and iOS app to track and reward usage and allow the consumer to manage their subscription. Today, the majority owner of TakeCareof.com is the OTC giant Bayer.
Ritual – a Health Technology Vitamin Company
The Ritual Vitamin brand, not to be confused with Ritual Cosmetics, also has an interesting, if not unique, startup. Several supplement companies we’ve reviewed were started when the founder was dissatisfied with the current offerings in their space and took matters into their own hands. Such was the case when Katerina Schneider, CEO, and founder of Ritual Vitamin, was pregnant. Schneider scrutinized the products throughout her home, discarding those with ingredients she couldn’t support. In the process, she discovered she could not find a perfect prenatal multivitamin, so she decided to create her own.
Previously a venture partner in a major investment fund, Schneider proceeded to build her woman’s vitamin brand enabled by technology. “Technology is at the core of everything we do and enables us to bring our mission of transparency and empowering consumers to know what they put in their bodies and into each facet of the customer experience.”
Originally geared toward adult women, Ritual has since expanded its supplement offering to include the following:
- Multivitamins for Men, Women, and Gummies for Kids
- Prenatal and Postnatal Vitamins
- Protein Powders
- Synbiotics (Pre, Post, and Probiotics)
Like Care / of, Ritual employs a subscription service model to maintain its recurring revenue. Ritual has also developed an app, the “Habit Loop,” a three-part cycle, the “Cue” reminding the consumer to take their daily vitamin, the “Routine” noting that the consumer took their dosage, and the “Reward” celebrating the consumer’s discipline and compliance. In addition, users can track their daily intake along with their exercise regime.
Transparency, traceability, and sustainability are hallmarks of all Ritual products and marketing efforts – from ingredient sourcing to clinical trial results and bottles and mailings from recycled materials.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Best in Class Go to Market Strategies
Both companies enjoy success in the marketplace and have sophisticated websites, apps, and creative methods to engage the consumer. Beyond prioritizing the customer experience and service, Care / of and Ritual also follow many of the best-in-class practices seen in the natural product industry with FDA-registered, cGMP compliant facilities, third-party testing, and certifications for Ritual products, NSF or USP certifications, label transparency, no proprietary blends, and sustainably sourced, high-quality ingredients. Both companies’ products are non-GMO, vegan or vegetarian, gluten-free, and with no fillers or artificial ingredients. In addition, both companies have qualified money-back guarantees if consumers are not completely satisfied.
Although Care / of and Ritual have extended product offerings, we focus on their multivitamin offerings for comparison purposes. First, just a bit about the role of a multivitamin product.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Multivitamin Supplements
Vitamins and minerals are the largest segment of the supplement industry, with nearly half of all adults, 70% of older adults, taking vitamins to address potential deficiencies in the typical American diet. Some 90% of adults consume less than the USDA RDA for at least one vitamin in their food intake. Yet, vitamins and minerals are essential for health and bodily functions, such as enzyme and hormone production, and immune response to perform correctly. These supplements come in various forms, letter vitamins, minerals, and multis, with multivitamins representing nearly a third of the category.
Although there is no formal definition of a multivitamin, they typically contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, and often additional ingredients. Referred to as multis, multivitamins, or simply vitamins, they come in tablets, capsules, liquids, gummies, or powders.
Below is a list of the various multivitamins available from both Care/of and Ritual:
Taking the “Care/of Quiz”
I took the Care/of “Quiz” for a test drive for you. It’s friendly, minimally invasive, and asks fundamental questions about your current health, fitness goals, activity level, and diet. As expected, it is designed to help determine what supplements, in addition to a basic multivitamin, should be in your supplement regimen.
If you’re a gym rat or have aggressive fitness goals, don’t expect to find any edgy ergogenic aids in their recommendation. Given my rather extreme responses, I received a recommendation for a basic creatine monohydrate supplement in addition to the multi, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and fish oil.
Missing from the quiz were questions relative to current supplementation, prescription medications, or specific health conditions.
It would appear the quiz will regularly suggest one of the three multivitamins in their range, the Multivitamin for males, Multi + Iron for women, or Prenatal for women of childbearing age, in addition to a selection of additional supplements predicated on your lifestyle and objectives.
Ritual Essential for Women
- Multivitamin 18+
- Multivitamin 50+
- Prenatal Multivitamin
- Postnatal Multivitamin
Ritual Essential for Men
- Multivitamin 18+
- Multivitamin 50+
- Multivitamin for Him
Ritual Essential for Teens
Care/of vs. Ritual: Addressing Fluctuating Vitamin RDAs
The Recommended Daily Allowances, the average daily dietary intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement for vitamins and minerals change by age, gender, lifestyle, and for pregnant or lactating women. Gender and life stage play important roles in establishing the RDA, adequate intake levels, and tolerable upper intake values.
For example, the vitamin C RDA for males escalates throughout childhood from 15 mg for toddlers to 75 mg for teens (14 – 18). For adults 19 and older, the RDA is 90 mg, unless you are a smoker, which then escalates to 125 mg. The RDA for adult women is 75 mg unless you are pregnant, 85 mg, or breastfeeding 120 mg. Although the RDA for C stays constant throughout adult life, the RDA for other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and Calcium increase as we age.
Our two subject companies address this issue differently; Care/of supplements have three varieties: men’s, women’s, and prenatal, addressing gender differences. Ritual not only addresses the gender issue but also segments their offerings by life stage with an 18+, 50+, or kids offering, in addition to pre-and postnatal products.
Care/of vs. Ritual: The Formulations
The company’s claim is “better, not more ingredients,” to fill dietary gaps – they ensure that claimed ingredients are present at the stated quantity through the expiration date of the product. Care/of is typically more concerned with probiotic products.
Multivitamin – A blend of seven essential vitamins and four minerals, emphasizing vitamin D3, K2, and B12 at levels meeting or exceeding the RDA. The other vitamins, such as vitamin C at 20 mg, represent a percentage of the daily RDA. This is the basic multi recommended for men in the Care/of lineup.
Multivitamin + Iron – The recommended multi for people who menstruate. Contains eight essential vitamins and five minerals. Dosages adjusted towards a women’s RDA, with the same focus on vitamin D3 and B12, plus Folate and 6 mg Iron not included in the basic formulation.
Prenatal – Contains twenty-two essential vitamin and mineral nutrients, dosages adjusted to meet the needs of pregnant or lactating women. Prenatal includes additional minerals at elevated dosages.
The company prioritizes transparency and sustainability, informing consumers of each ingredient’s source through its Made Traceable™ visible supply chain program. Products are delivered in either the patented Beadlet in Oil or the Ritual Smart Capsule, both providing a clear, clean, unique delayed-release experience designed to dissolve in the small intestine rather than the stomach.
Essential Multi for Women
Multivitamin 18+ – Formulated specifically for women 18-49, with only nine ingredients, designed to help fill nutrient gaps in their diet. With significant quantities of D3 and Folate, 250% of the RDA, and B12 at 333% of the RDA. Includes 330 mg of Omega 3 DHA. USP certified.
Notably missing from the Essential ingredient panel are vitamin C, calcium, copper, and selenium, which Ritual believes are adequate in most diets.
Multivitamin 50+ – Formulated for post-menopausal women, with only eight ingredients, dosed for the differing needs of those fifty-plus. D3 and B12 receive significant doses in this formulation, and Iron is excluded.
Pre and Postnatal Multivitamins – Prenatal is formulated with twelve key ingredients and postnatal fifteen. Both are designed and formulated according to specific RDAs.
Essential Multi for Men
Multivitamin 18+ – Formulated specifically for the RDAs for men 18-49, with ten ingredients, no Iron, designed to help fill nutrient gaps in their diet. Significant quantities of D3, 250% of the RDA, and B12 at 333% of the RDA. Includes 330 mg of Omega 3 DHA.
Multivitamin 50+ – The same ten ingredients as in the Men 18+ with age-adjusted dosages and significantly more B12 at 667% of the RDA.
Essential Multi for Teens
Teen products are adjusted to appropriate vitamin and mineral dosages for boys and girls in the 13 – 17 age group, with nine ingredients in the boy’s product and ten ingredients (including Iron) in the girl’s product. Both products include 330 mg of plant-based Omega 3 DHA from microalgae.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Dosages
Care/of Foundation products, Multivitamin and Multi + Iron are two tablets per serving – the Prenatal Vitamin is three tablets per serving. All are delivered in easily digestible tablets. The company recommends taking your multi with a meal.
All Ritual Multivitamin offerings are two Vegan capsules per serving, including the Teen, Prenatal, and Postnatal products.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Benefits of Each Brand
Although the companies differ in their approaches, both are designed as insurance policies to address potential dietary vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Both companies prioritize those nutrients typically missing in the typical American diet.
The Ritual products all include a plant-based Omega 3 at 330 mg of DHA for heart health. Note: the RDI (Referenced Daily Intake) of combined EPA and DHA is 250 – 500 mg.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Price Comparisons
As mentioned in our intro, both companies specialize in subscription services, i.e., monthly deliveries of your multivitamins. Pricing is reflective of a monthly subscription.
Care/of Foundation Multi products, Multivitamin, and Multivitamin + Iron are $15.00 for a thirty-day supply. The Prenatal product is $18.99.
Free shipping on orders of $30.00 or more, a qualified money-back guarantee, and the ability to cancel a monthly subscription.
Essential for Women Products – 18+ and Teens are $33.00; all other formulations are $39.00 for thirty servings. Similarly, the Men’s 18+ and Teens are $33.00 while the 50+ is $39.00. Their Synbiotic+ product is a bit pricier, at $54.
Like Care/of, Ritual subscription benefits include free shipping, a money-back guarantee, and easy cancellation, anytime.
Care/of products tend to be priced in the more national brand, OTC range, such as One a Day or Centrum. Ritual is more closely aligned with premium natural product offerings such as Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code, New Chapter, or Universal Nutrition’s Animal Paks.
Care/of vs. Ritual: How They Compare
While both companies are excellent marketers with sophisticated systems, we give Ritual the nod in product development. Care/of tells us they recruited experienced industry experts from a reputable natural product company; Ritual goes further by listing their scientific Leadership Team. Both companies have Advisory Boards replete with PhDs, MDs, and RDs.
In a clear advantage versus Care/of, Ritual also subjects its products to third-party testing, and specific products qualify for certification from entities such as USP and NSF. In addition, unlike many other supplement companies, Ritual performs clinical trials on its finished products versus relying upon ingredient manufacturer’s tests and advises consumers of their findings and substantiated claims.
Another edge goes to Ritual for its delivery systems, either Beadlet in Oil or Smart Capsules, which dissolve in the small intestine versus the stomach. Further, many people have difficulty swallowing tablets.
From a business go-to-market perspective, the Care/of Target partnership makes the product more readily accessible and gives the company a distinct edge in points of physical distribution. Ritual products are available on Amazon.com.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Customer Reviews
Both companies receive outstanding reviews on their websites. In a departure from the norm in supplement reviews, customer service and customer relations are the primary topics versus product efficacy or health benefits. Let’s not forget the importance of those recurring revenues.
Reviewing customer reviews can be a bit tricky – call us a bit skeptical. Ritual reviews included comments regarding the ease and convenience of the subscription service, the ease of swallowing the Ritual product – a differentiator versus Care/of products, and the transparency of the product. We couldn’t discern if the transparency comment referred to the actual clear capsule or the company’s policy (transparency) regarding ingredient sourcing.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Other Considerations
So, which company and which product is right for you? We suggest you consider the following:
- If you are new to supplements, you may wish to consider the Care/of Quiz to help you determine potential deficiencies and the appropriate products to address any gaps. But, beware, you will be the subject of a “re-targeting” campaign and follow-up emails from the company. *
- Ease of use – the Ritual vegan capsules may be a better option for those that have issues swallowing supplements. Care/of products are in tablet form.
- Older adults should consider the Ritual 50 + products as dosages are predicated on age-related RDAs versus the one-size-fits-all Care/of approach.
- Although both companies offer a Prenatal, only Ritual offers a Postnatal product.
- If price is a consideration, Care/of is the more economical choice. This is somewhat offset by including Omega 3 in the Ritual products. Based on the Care/of Quiz, my recommended regimen had a Fish Oil product, 600 mg, $16.00 for a thirty-day supply, basically evening the pricing playing field.
- The edge for overall quality – in formulation, ingredients, delivery systems, and testing would go to Ritual.
*Note: While the Care/of Quiz addresses some health-related questions, missing were questions relative to current supplementation, prescription medications, and medical history. We recommend that you discuss any recommendations with your health professional to avoid possible interactions with a medication to ensure you are not taking unnecessary nutrients or not enough of them.
Care/of vs. Ritual: Which is Better?
A daily multivitamin/multimineral is an inexpensive, yet effective method to ensure you get the nutrients required for your body to function properly. Both companies reviewed provide that benefit, with the convenience of a monthly (thirty-day) subscription to help form the habit, an Android or iOS app to aid in compliance, and, at relatively affordable prices. Care/of eliminates some guesswork with its quiz and is a bit more economical. Their Target alliance makes accessing the product simpler.
Ritual provides a superior delivery system (vegan capsules) and, in our opinion, distinguishes itself through its third-party testing and accreditation, and clinical trials of its finished products.
If you’re still looking to learn more about each option, fret not. You can read our full Care/of review here and our full Ritual review here. Either way, for those with something less than the ideal diet, we suggest you consider one of these dietary nutrient insurance approaches.