Target is enjoying an exclusive launch window for a vibrant and colorful first-aid brand that aims to renew the category by blending function with fun. Dubbed Welly, the brand encourages Millennials and Gen-Xers to turn their bandages into badges of honor.
Welly Health PBC's Welly rolled out to Target's 1,800-plus stores and target.com this week, encompassing 25 first-aid items ranging from flex-fabric bandages for fingers and toes to a travel-sized "human repair kit" containing bandages, hand sanitizer and single-use packets of antibiotic and hydrocortisone ointments. Ranging in price from $4.99 to $9.99, the SKUs are packaged in stackable tins that are generally brightly colored. One Welly tin, for example, is sky-blue-and-white striped and contains fabric bandages for knees and elbows of the same color and pattern.
In stores, Welly enjoys secondary merchandising space via endcaps outfitted with signage communicating the SKUs are "new & only at Target" and depicting large cut outs of the brand's colorful bandages. An April 8 "A Bullseye View" blog post and a dedicated brand page on target.com supports. Welly will expand to other retail channels in the future, according to Digiday.
"When we looked at first-aid options, we saw a hugely stagnant category with products that were either geared towards children or meant to blend in, hidden in a way," said Welly co-founder Eric Ryan, who also co-created brands Olly and Method, in a media release. "Healthcare and self-care are such important components to your overall lifestyle, and we wanted to apply that thinking to this everyday necessity. Cuts and scrapes are often a result of getting out into the world, exploring, and living to the fullest – that should always be celebrated."
The brand also grew from insights that consumers "often did not have what they needed when and where they needed it," said Doug Stukenborg, Welly co-founder and chief executive officer, in the release. "We saw an opportunity to improve portability, storability and findability through thoughtful packaging innovations. The stackable nature of our tins helps people navigate to what they need. Inside the tins we separate sizes to help them quickly find the right bandage for the current need."
Stukenborg and Ryan are no strangers to working with Target. Stukenborg previously worked at Target as vice president and merchandise manager of healthcare, and Ryan has partnered with the retailer for the launches of Olly and Method, the latter of which is now owned by SC Johnson. Like Welly, Olly also made its market debut via Target, and Method’s environmentally conscious line of cleaning sprays and dish soaps caught its big break when after earning merchandising space in 90 Target stores it expanded nationwide following an overwhelmingly positive response.
“We have a history of bringing innovative products to market with the team behind Welly – first with Method in 2002, and later with Olly in 2016,” said Christina Hennington, Target’s senior vice president, general merchandise manager, essentials, beauty, hardlines and services, in the blog post. “The introduction of Welly into our assortment is another example of how we’re continuing to differentiate our essentials business with products we know our [shoppers] will love.”
First aid, cleaning products and vitamins may seem to have little in common, but they are all large consumer categories that were previously dull (and damaging the environment in the case of cleaning products), according to Forbes. Partnering with Target played no small role in the success of Ryan's first two brands, and he's betting on the same for Welly.
"I love finding these big consumer categories," Ryan told Forbes. "Method addressed lifestyle in the home and sustainability, and Olly was very much about how Millennials integrate health into their lifestyle. First aid and bandages really haven’t changed much, and one brand has dominated for decades now."
The one brand Ryan is referring to is no doubt Johnson & Johnson, which for the past few years has partnered with Target to dangle a free first-aid bag designed by Joy Cho of "Oh Joy!" blogging fame with purchase of three select health care items. (See Related Updates below.) Target and J&J first introduced the "First Aid Kit" program in 2009 as a way to bring innovation to the increasingly commoditized first-aid category. It is unclear if the program will run again this year.