When it comes to products within the self-care sphere, we pick up those that appeal to something about us, or claim to fix something specific to our needs. Our shampoo might add volume, or moisturize, or intensify curls, but it’s difficult to find products that satisfy all of our unique needs at once. That’s where personalized products come in—by getting to know you and understand what you’re looking for from the product, brands are able to curate something that feels special and solves all of the problems you’ve been having with mainstream products. Personalization comes with a price, however, Millennials and Gen-Z are more likely to buy a product that emphasizes their individuality as long as the brand does more than simply slap their name on a box. Brands like Care/of, Gainful, and Prose are emphasizing the unique aspects and problems their customers face in the realm of self-care not only to help them solve the continuous puzzle of “wellness,” but also to bolster their confidence as individuals. And, in a world where individuality is becoming increasingly valuable in general, Emily Steel of The New York Times says, “a future of made-to-order everything is on its way to becoming a reality”.
Care/of is an online vitamin and supplement brand that curates and delivers a daily regimen specific to your current needs and goals. Care/of’s service begins with a quiz, which extends itself depending on the answers you choose. The test is split into 4 categories: Basics, Goals, Lifestyle, and Values.
Based on your answers, Care/of curates a selection of vitamins and supplements for you. Each recommendation is paired with a summary of information (including ingredient sourcing, uses, and more), empowering customers to customize those selections further. Pricing is calculated per supplement per month, and free shipping is offered on orders over $20. Care/of prides itself on quality and honesty, from sourcing all the way through the supply chain. For customers that really want to dig in, they also provide studies that show the efficacy of each product.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with care/of. Transparency isn’t often found in the vitamin and supplement realm, so to find a company that takes pride in that value and provides their customers with the information needed to make a well-educated decision is really refreshing. Also, their focus on bioavailability and sustainability stands out to me. All of their shipping products are recyclable, and according to the FAQs section on their website, the individual packages that carry the vitamins will soon be compostable!
Gainful is a personalized protein powder brand designed to help you reach your fitness or body composition goals. People take protein for many different reasons, but few companies serve specific niches within the category. The Gainful quiz shows how the brand has taken the time to really understand it’s customers and their needs. For example, instead of general “lose weight” or “gain weight” questions, you use sliders to identify your current body type and your goal body type, as well as your current weight and your goal weight. Of course, they ask about other goals, types of exercise you participate in, and your dietary choices before presenting you with your personalized blend.
The results page presents you with a donut graph of the ingredients of your protein powder, the percentage of each ingredient, and the reasons why each is included. I made a friend take the quiz as well and send me his results, as we have very different fitness routines and goals (I’m a climber and yogi looking to lose weight but keep/gain muscle, and he’s a triathlete trying to bulk up). Both of us were recommended a whey protein base, but his had a higher percentage of isolate and mine had a higher concentrate percentage. His blend also contained maltodextrin and dextrose to promote muscle growth, while mine had casein and green tea extract to keep me full longer and support weight loss. Scrolling down on the results page gives you a snapshot of your blend’s nutrition facts and amino acid profile. Gainful also offers powders suitable for those following special diets, such as plant-based mixes.
Gainful’s website is full of information about health and fitness. Their mission is to help people achieve their personal fitness goals: everybody is different and every body is different. They pride themselves on transparency, which they demonstrate through detailed ingredient information. Their ingredients are all non-GMO and organic, and their whey products are BSE-free, and hormone free. Talking their service a step further, every Gainful customer is paired with a registered dietician for free to help them reach their goals, because the company recognizes that protein powder is just a stepping stone to overall wellness, not a means to an end.
Finally, let’s talk about Prose. Prose is a personalized hair care line that has likely popped up a time or two on your Instagram feed. Their goal is to serve customers unique needs by avoiding the broader categories defined by the rest of the category (often defined by hair type, gender, or ethnicity). According to their website, your personalized recommendation is one of over 50 billion outcomes.
Out of the three brands, Prose’s quiz took me the longest to fill out. They start with basic questions such as age, hair type, length, and get more specific from there. Results show what ingredients are used in your unique blend before you’re brought to check out.
Prose takes the idea of personalized hair care to a whole new level. A friend of mine, Becca, found Prose when she was searching for a way to save her bleached and damaged hair. “I saw a difference after I used the hair mask the next day, but it took me a week to really see a change.” she told me, “Now my hair is significantly less dry and frizzy, and the smell is amazing.”
My personalized products included a pre-shampoo mask, a shampoo, and a conditioner that came to $88 total. This seemed a little steep to me, so I asked Becca what she thought about the pricing. “To be honest,” she explained, “it’s less expensive than most blonde hair care lines and if it works and I have to buy less product then I’m with it”. Fair enough—I don’t color, heat treat, or style my hair very often, so my perception of hair products is a bit warped. Each shipment is about two months worth of product because Prose optimizes your formulas based on the season. The ingredients will change slightly depending on the time of year and how it impacts your hair.
Prose also values transparency and walks the walk by listing all of their natural and man-made ingredients on their website. Their man-made list also includes a section of ingredients they’re working on getting rid of to continue to improve the formulas, and an entire section of ingredients they’ve never used.
Overall, I’m impressed with all three companies and their dedication to their personalized products. Each quiz was more intensive and thoughtful than I expected, and the results reflected the information they gathered. If you are in the market for any of these products, I think each brand should be a consideration in your search. At the very least, taking the quizzes helps you get to know what you’re really looking for from each industry.
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