Supplement spray brand founder: Securing success without ‘faddy’ marketing
Andrew Thomas, founder and CEO at BetterYou, explains: “We’re not a faddy company. The premise behind our company BetterYou wasn't clear from day one. What I had was a product that worked for me and that I believed would work for other people.”
Founded in 2006, BetterYou specialises in the development of alternatives to tablets and capsules, focusing on nutrients that are increasingly omitted or underrepresented in modern diets and lifestyles.
The launch was instigated when Thomas was introduced to a transdermal (skin administration) magnesium product by biochemist Juan Rosselloor, who he met by chance in a bar; the two got to talking when Rosselloor noticed Thomas’ asthma inhaler and suggested this magnesium skin spray might help aid his asthmatic symptoms.
It has been suggested in previous studies that magnesium sulphate is a bronchodilator, with its ability to relax bronchial muscles and expand airways.
After a month of use, Thomas saw improvements in symptoms, and when getting in touch with Rosselloor to replenish his personal stock, he was directed to the manufacturer.
Thomas visited the magnesium mine in Holland and, after seeing the quality of the ingredient, chose to sell the ingredient in Europe, leaving behind his job in retail marketing to launch the brand BetterYou.
The scientifically tested and backed Magnesium products launched by BetterYou came in oil form originally, then an additional magnesium flake product (for adding to the bath), available in the UK.
Thomas notes that the company’s strength is in offering an alternative delivery system.
He explains: “The ingredients bypass the digestive absorption and get straight into the bloodstream. And that is the true definition of bioavailability. It is all about taking an active ingredient and getting it into circulation as quickly as possible, minimising dropout or loss.”
Three years into transdermal magnesium product specialisation, Thomas recognised a consumer trend for vitamin D and decided to develop an oil-based vitamin D capsule.
It was then he learned Dr. Charles Heard at Cardiff University was testing oral sprays for the prevention of malaria in infants, and was inspired to test his vitamin D in the same way.
Heard devised a test that found that the BetterYou vitamin D liquid in spray form was not only well absorbed through the skin but was able to “elevate cellular magnesium levels faster than any tablet or capsule could ever hope to.”
This instigated the launch of the brand's first oral spray in 2009.
He explains that after somewhat serendipitously developing a highly effective vitamin D supplement, BetterYou also now fulfils a need for an alternative delivery mechanism, stating: “Two in five people choose to purchase an alternative to a tablet or capsule.”
He believes that there is too much dependency on capsule or pill formats in the supplement industry, saying: “Relying on the gut for everything is simply not sensible when you're talking about supplementary delivery mechanisms.”
He elaborates with the example of iron tablets, stating that this is a pro-oxidant which when taken in isolation can start to strip the lining of the stomach, an issue bypassed by oral absorption.
Ten years on, the brand's iron oral spray is one of the twenty plus vitamin oral sprays in the now globally available catalogue of products which includes vitamins B, C, and K, Selenium, Tumeric, and Zinc.
Thomas explains that the testing has been of the utmost importance to him, saying: “To sleep at night I needed to know that these products worked.”
He estimates the brand’s products have been actively involved in 26 or 27 clinical studies to date.
As he notes, coming in from a background in marketing, he assumed that final product testing was the norm, stating: “Coming in new, I thought that was how the entire industry worked.”
He states: “Everything that we launch is underpinned by science. Not looking at whether the ingredients work in isolation, but whether the finished product works…
“A lot of companies claim they have scientific backing. But often they have adopted science that has been generated by a raw ingredient manufacturer.
“That doesn't mean the ingredient will deliver when its consumed within the product.”
Educating through science
Thomas says that clinical studies are an important vehicle for “creating stories in the press and helping consumers understand” the benefits of their products.
The need for education to better market the products BetterYou offers, led the company to launch at-home health test kits in 2013 in collaboration with the NHS, designed to identify vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Based on blood sample results, BetterYou provides a bespoke assessment and supplementation plan to maintain or raise vitamin and mineral levels.
As Thomas explains, it is not a lucrative process, but one that educates the consumer.