Paltrow's Goop cashes in on booming wellness market

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow says her platform is not "prescriptive" but rather, serves as a space to discuss interesting holistic alternatives for women.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow says her platform is not "prescriptive" but rather, serves as a space to discuss interesting holistic alternatives for women.PHOTO: GOOP/INSTAGRAM

NEW YORK • Goop, a lifestyle brand helmed by Gwyneth Paltrow, is best known as an online platform for luxury goods.

Yet, to the surprise of the medical community, it has become an epicentre of the multi-trillion-dollar wellness industry.

The market, which spans everything from mind-body fitness to preventative medicine, was valued at US$4.2 trillion (S$5.7 trillion) in 2017, according to the non-profit Global Wellness Institute.

Paltrow is partially responsible for this growth. Her company, which launched as a newsletter for recipes and products a decade ago, has dominated the conversation among women seeking alternatives to traditional medicine.

At a recent In Goop Health conference in New York, women in expensive athleisurewear showed up, paying US$1,000 or US$4,500.

The event, which began in 2017, has expanded in recent years, from Los Angeles to London, promoting products ranging from "psychic vampire repellent" to an US$85 "goop medicine bag" of gemstones.

Revenue from wellness products and events has nearly tripled for Goop in the last two years.

"We're marketing to a very actionable consumer because he's a shopper," said chief revenue officer Kimberly Kreuzberger.

Since it began fundraising, Goop has pulled in more than US$82 million from venture capital firms and investors. It is valued at more than US$250 million, according to PitchBook Data, a market research firm.

Ms Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global, a wellness and performance company, called Paltrow an ambitious leader in the arena. "Goop has only just barely begun to scratch the surface in terms of demand," she said.

But the company has faced criticism for promoting health products that lack evidence of medical benefit. Last year, Goop agreed to pay US$145,000 to settle allegations it made unverified health claims.

The company has since introduced a Science & Regulatory Wellness Portal which aims, by the middle of this year, to offer proof of the quality, safety and efficacy of all the products it sells.

The project has enlisted a science, research and regulatory team that includes a certified acupuncturist, a nutritional biochemist and a traditional Chinese medicine doctor.

Paltrow has repeatedly said her platform is not "prescriptive" but rather, serves as a space to discuss interesting holistic alternatives for women - a population that has long been underserved by traditional healthcare systems.

But the women who attended the recent conference were not all true believers. Most were professionals: public relations and brand experts, along with beauty industry representatives looking to gain a better understanding of how everything Paltrow touches - no matter how medically absurd-sounding - turns to gold.

Ms Leigh Winters, who is launching her own aromatherapy skin-care line, trekked from San Francisco to New York for the networking opportunities.

"I've been trading numbers with PR people," she said. "It's an expensive day, but it's a potent crowd and you never know who you're going to meet."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2019, with the headline 'Paltrow's Goop cashes in on booming wellness market'. Print Edition | Subscribe