Gummies for Grown-ups The joyful dissonance of gummy vitamins
Gummy sweets have an innate connection to childhood nostalgia. A fruit-flavoured candy might hold memories of being rewarded for good grades; snacks on school trips; or a treat when visiting relatives. What better way to encourage adults to get their vitamins than to tap into these associations by making vitamins that evoke candy?
Gummy vitamin brands have proliferated in recent years, partly spurred on by Covid and the desire for convenient health-boosting rituals. The growth looks set to continue, with the gummy vitamins market expected to reach a value of US$8.6 Billion by 2027. Across the US & UK, a variety of emerging vitamin gummy brands tell us something about the state of wellbeing culture in general.
Joyful Vitality: Olly
Across the brands that have moved into gummy vitamins, Olly – owned by Unilever – stands out as a pioneer. The brand is a certified B Corp, and offers vitamins for a vast range of benefits/concerns, from sleep to stress to immunity.
The vitamin category has long grappled with the problem of visually representing its ingredients. Many dominant brands feature a computerised raspberry or citrus to point to a flavour variant. While some Olly packs feature photorealistic berries, the brand’s pack imagery tends to focus on representing ‘how Olly makes you feel.’ The packs feature bold, geometric patterns that visually refer to the product’s function – “Ultra Strength” packs have an angular, interlocking pattern rendered in 3D suggesting powerful protection, while “Sleep” packs feature circles that evoke a lunar circle and a deep purple colour suggesting depth of sleep.
Olly’s visual language is echoed by others in the category – Boots and Holland & Barrett ranges use a similar pack style, with bold lettering, a prominent circle icon, and transparent tubs – but it’s these subtler semiotic cues of emotional benefits (not just functional ones) that help Olly stand out.
Daily Lifestyle Intake: First Day
First Day looks more like a scented candle than a pack of vitamins. The brand’s supplements are organic, gluten-free, vegan, and low-sugar, tying into wider dietary-lifestyle shifts. The brand name ‘First Day’ implies that it’s never too late to begin your health journey, while also evoking vaguely biblical creation connotations. Moving away from vitamin category cues of impersonal science, First Day emphasises the personal, with hand-drawn style illustrations, a traditional serifed font, and lower-case wordmark suggesting approachable humility rather than elevated authority.
Strict Efficacy, Two Ways: Gatorade & Nourish
On the other hand, Gatorade gummies are positioned as scientific expertise and physical energy. The brand’s signature lightning bolt, capital letters and orange-red shade all suggest urgent, instant power – even alarm. However, unlike the brand’s drink packaging, its recently released ‘Recovery’ gummies packs adopt a minimalist style that feels more akin to First Day, above. The negative space and prominent red colour suggest depth of cherry flavour, as well as unhindered precision and straightforward, functional impact.
A brand in ‘laboratory meets lifestyle’ territory, Nourished gummies combine leading-edge innovation with absolute personalisation. Nourished supplements are 3D-printed and combine multiple vitamins and pills in one, with each combination being as bespoke as possible. The website invites you to take a quiz to find out which vitamin is right for you – notably starting with flavour (sweet or sour?) rather than with vitamins & health needs. The brand’s TOV is informal and vocation-oriented, with product names such as ‘The High Flyer Stack’, ‘The Gamer’, or ‘The Party Proofed Stack.’ While clean white visuals, machine imagery and references to development research all suggest biological expertise, the brand’s visuals and TOV frame healthy “nourishment” as personalised sensory delight from an intimately familiar specialist.
3 key takeaways for brands:
- Gummies are about bringing sensory pleasure and convenience to health. Emergently, across wellbeing categories, it’s not enough to have just one or the other. For a long time, vitamins have been framed as a daily obligation, but there’s an opportunity to reframe healthy routines as excitement and personal fulfilment.
- To position a health product, brands need to understand the wider cultural context in which not only health sits, but also the cultural factors that are impacting health (e.g. shifting societal pressures and expectations; stressors; pollutants). Telling a story that has lifestyle relevance, backed by scientific expertise, is key.
- Brands like Nourished and Olly (with its vast variant range) point to an increasing preference for personalisation in health & wellbeing. Can your brand invite consumers to learn more about how their own inner health works, building consumer confidence through familiarity rather than authoritative distance?
Katrina Russell, Associate Director