Stand in the aisles where vitamin-based supplements and remedies are found and you’ll see a picture that has barely changed since the early 1990s. Indeed, the entire system of recommended daily vitamin intake dates back to post-war food shortages and dietary deficiencies of the time. Very little science or product development has been done on how best to optimise our bodies – and our immune systems – for today’s challenges.
Founder Sunna van Kampen soft-launched Tonic Health just over a year ago, at a time when nobody had any idea just how unique – and acute – those challenges were about to become.
Van Kampen says: “The pandemic has accelerated all of our focusses on our immunity and how to get our bodies to better protect us. We’ve had an amazing reaction to the new brand so far from retailers and fans alike.”
Tonic Health supplements work with the body’s own defences, which require higher vitamin doses as the body deals with infections. It has the highest concentration of vitamin C on the market (1500mg) which is combined with vitamin D, zinc and real plant extracts such as elderberry and ginger. This provides the equivalent dose of 21 oranges worth of vitamin C, the vitamin D content of over 13 eggs and the zinc equivalent of half a kilo of sunflower seeds. Crucially, Tonic Health doesn’t contain any junk ingredients, like artificial sweeteners or sugar, which can actually weaken the body’s own defences.
Leading scale-up creative agency And Rising identified Tonic Health as a debut investment for its creative capital fund, which has given it access to brand specialists as part of the development team. In a world where it has never been easier to start a brand and never been harder to scale one, brand thinking from day one is helping Tonic Health to go up the growth curve faster and with more value.
Adrienne Little, head of investments, says: “We encourage new brands to be as vertical and digitally driven as possible, even in categories where retail distribution is the fastest way to grow. It’s much easier to do that when the brand fundamentals are right from day one, which is what creative capital gives them.”
Tonic Health raised £600k as a seed round, which was 150% of its initial target, to ramp-up sales and marketing operations in the UK. And Rising was among a number of high profile investors taking seats on the board, including Tom Singh (founder of New Look), Diego Bevilacqua (ex-Unilever president) and Peter Tighe (ex-L’Oréal and chief commercial officer at GHD).
Tonic Health has experienced over 1,000% growth since it pre-launched last November, including significant listings in both Holland & Barrett and Boots as part of its hybrid business model. Designed by And Rising, the brand has been visually constructed using the forms and colours of vitamin C looked at under an electron microscope.
Lead strategist on the project Katie Hind summarises by saying: “Tonic Health isn’t a typical pharma cold and flu powder, nor a cuddly vitamin, nor a zen-herbal tea. And, unlike most remedies, Tonic doesn’t suppress or mask symptoms but instead harnesses the natural power of your body. The brand’s visual distinctiveness comes directly from the science behind that.”
While the pandemic continues to exacerbate real short-term stress on the UK’s health systems, And Rising has encouraged Tonic Health to think more broadly using one-, five- and 10-year horizons. It hopes that Tonic Health is part of a much broader and enlightened movement of brands and services to come.
Little concludes: “Ultimately, as an investment, Tonic Health goes beyond category disruption as part of a wider movement of products and services that help us better strengthen our immune systems. Our healthcare resources are precious and we’d all like to keep ourselves from getting ill, taking more personal responsibility and letting our own bodies take care of themselves as much as possible. That’s the power in all of us.”