Bellway ‘junk free’ psyllium fiber emerges from beta-testing with $2M fundraise to target millennials

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Bellway
Source: Bellway

Related tags: Fiber, fundraising

With $2M in just-announced seed funding, a “junk free” promise and a bright, modern packaging that trades heavily in on-trend buzz words, recently launched Bellway aims to bring new life – and a younger generation – to the sleepy fiber segment.

For decades, fiber has targeted mostly consumers in their 60s and older as a digestion and weight-loss aid, but a whopping 95% of adults do not consume enough fiber daily – making it a product that everyone needs, according to Bellway founder Max Dresse.

But, he added, younger consumers have shied away from the category in part because they don’t want to see themselves in the older adults often portrayed in established category players’ marketing and because they want natural, minimally processed options with clean ingredient decks.

Bellway solves for this by offering an option that is free from artificial flavors, sweeteners and sugar and uses organic ingredients where competitors do not, says Dresse.

He explained Bellway offers consumers a base of organic psyllium, which is described on the brand’s website as a natural, “super fiber” that “gently travels through your system, picking up toxins and loose materials along the way”​ before exiting the body “smooth and easy.”

As a natural fiber, Dresse explains psyllium likely will help Bellway appeal to consumers who are looking for whole, minimally processed products, but he says what really sets the brand apart from other well-established competitors that also use psyllium is what isn’t in its powder blends.

Bellway skips the artificial flavors and sweeteners used by pysillum-based Metamucil and some other competitors, opting instead to use “real fruit”​ powders and natural flavors to create a trio of choices, including lemon lime, raspberry lemon and mixed berry blends that are available in tubs and stick packs. It also ditches the aspartame and sugar that are added to various Metamucil and competing products in favor of monkfruit.

Not your ‘grandma’s fiber’

While the ingredient deck will help the new brand establish its bona fides with the natural consumer of any age, its marketing clearly targets younger consumers, including Millennials and Gen Z, who tend to be turned off by what Bellway’s website describes as “grandma’s fiber​.”

Dresse explains that unlike competitors that focus on “regularity” and weight-loss in their advertising, Bellway calls out the health benefits more directly in a no-nonsense tone that he said he believes appeals to younger consumers.

“Essentially we’re saying we all have to go to the bathroom and its fine. And it’s something that this product can really help with,”​ Dresse said. “We also highlight the many, many other benefits of fiber, whether it be beauty benefits, like for hair, skin and nails, or weight-loss or lowering your cholesterol and reducing the risk of colon cancer and heart disease.”

The brand also appeals to younger consumers with bright, whimsical packaging that features a repeating pattern of line drawn fruits that flavor each blend, and callouts on the front of pack that resonate with modern, health-oriented shoppers, including gluten-free, plant-based and 0 grams of sugar.

In addition, it favors more modern, buzzy terminology, like talking about the fiber as a prebiotics, which helps connect the product more directly to conversations around gut health, immunity and even the brain-gut connection. It also helps build on the momentum established by the probiotic space and lends weight to the brand as part of the food as medicine movement.

“When you think about the markets, what excites us a lot is that we are essentially talking about prebiotics and the prebiotic market was worth $4b in 2018 and is projected to reach $8b by 2026,”​ Dresse said about the brand’s positioning strategy.

The brand also is tapping influencers, who Dresse said younger consumers are more likely to trust than companies and brands.

“Even though we have paid influencers as part of our strategy, many of these influencers are completely blown away with the differences that Bellway makes pretty much right away. So, while oftentimes they start as a paid influencer, they turn in to organic influencers because they really believe in the product and that everybody should be taking more fiber,”​ he said.

Beyond social media, the brand took time from its beta launch in January until the launch now of its final product to solicit and respond to younger shoppers by selling direct-to-consumer, Dresse said. He explained that this strategic decision allowed it to gather and analyze shopper data and feedback in a way that isn’t possible in brick-and-mortar stores, Dresse said.

'We want to start a fiber movement'

While the brand started DTC, Dresse said it is ready to push into the retail environment and the fundraise announced today will help make that possible.

The funds also will allow the company to launch new products in November in January that, while still centered on fiber, will take the ingredient into more beauty and fitness-focused segments.

Looking forward, Dresse said, “We want to start a fiber movement. We want to take fiber in as many different directions as possible and really be the next generation fiber.”

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