“It’s about people empowering themselves to stay healthy”

Oxford Pharmascience’s newest innovation, Ellactiva, recently relaunched as a complete health and wellness supplement with new ingredients, proposition and packaging. We spoke to CEO, Marcelo Bravo, to understand the consumer need behind staying healthy, the thinking behind the new concept and what the term wellbeing means to him.

Tell us about Ellactiva.
Ellactiva started out a few years back as a soft chew calcium supplement for bone health. Then we stopped commercialising our own brand and licensed it out to other brands all over the world, mostly not under the Ellactiva name. Last year we decided to refocus on the soft chew business and we’ve totally reinvented Ellactiva. We took the name and brought it back to life.

The original concept was simply healthy bones, and now it’s very different. It’s still a supplement in a soft chew format, but we’re now going well beyond bone health and have reinvented Ellactiva as multi functional collagen soft chews for “inner health and outer glow “. The previous incarnation of Ellactiva used to contain sugar. Now we use prebiotic fibres to replace sugar, under one of our patents, and it’s sugar free.

What’s the thinking behind the new Ellactiva?
Working with Happen, we developed ideas via workshops and consumer immersions that guided the relaunch. Women take a range of supplements – some women take very many. But it’s a market that’s very confusing – there’s always something new, and how many pills are you going to take in one day anyway? Why are people treating themselves with all these supplements and pills, what are their needs? There was a need for something that could holistically address those main needs. We needed to know what wellbeing really meant to people.

We learned from the consumer immersions that there were some key needs. At the top wellness meant appearance – healthy beautiful skin, we can’t escape that. It meant trying to look and feel the way you did in your twenties, well into your fifties and sixties. But it also meant things like having energy and not getting tired halfway through the day. Immunity is another big theme – staying healthy as you age. Bone health was also a big theme, and that’s our heritage. It’s about inner health and outer glow: beauty and health from within.

On the one hand we’re capitalising on a big trend: beauty from within. If you really want beautiful skin you have to treat yourself properly and that starts with nutrition and there are certain supplements that can make a difference. But Ellactiva is much more than beauty from within, it’s beauty from within plus immunity, plus energy and so on.

"What we have in Ellactiva is quite unique: it’s a nice, pleasant, easy way of delivering nutrition. The industry has basically been pharma companies pushing pills and what’s changing now is wellbeing shifting towards nutrition. It’s shifting away from treatment to nutrition and lifestyle."

Marcelo Bravo, Ellactiva

Why is the soft chew format of Ellactiva important?
Supplements tend to be tablets or pills, sometimes powders. When you’re taking a pill or tablet, it’s just a short step away from a medicine, which is about treating you for something that’s wrong with you.
What we have in Ellactiva is quite unique: it’s a nice, pleasant, easy way of delivering nutrition. The industry has basically been pharma companies pushing pills and what’s changing now is wellbeing shifting towards nutrition. It’s shifting away from treatment to nutrition and lifestyle.

Where do you see the wellbeing trend going in the future?
At a macro level the trend is driven by demographic’s, people getting older and living longer and we need to ensure that we live well into those later years. At the same time we’re having more stress, and what we eat and our lifestyles may not be conducive to long-term wellbeing, so wellbeing as a trend is just going to continue. It’s about people empowering themselves to stay healthy, and not depending on drugs and medicines and health services to do that.

There are two groups driving change: those turning 50 who are self-empowered, highly educated and refocusing on themselves, but you also have millennials changing attitudes and expectations of what products should be like. I think millennials are going to push against pills and into changes in lifestyle, as well as in how these products look and feel.