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Goop has often been accused of peddling BS. Presumably in response to the public backlash the company often gets, it’s quietly launched several new initiatives to try to address this. At the same time, it’s adding new products to its mega-popular eponymous beauty and supplement selection.
According to Blair Lawson, Goop’s chief merchandising officer, the Goop name sells. The Goop by Juice Beauty skin care assortment is the best-selling product line across all the categories it sells. Within that, the $125 Exfoliating Instant Facial product is the top seller. Forty percent of Goop’s sales come from fashion, 40 percent from beauty, and 20 percent from wellness; probably not surprisingly, wellness is the site’s fastest-growing category.
Last year, Goop launched a series of supplements with cheeky names like “Balls in the Air” and “Why Am I So Effing Tired.” Its most recent supplement launch is powder packets called Goop Glow, which cost $60 for a 30-day supply and are the site’s most beauty-adjacent supplement. Lawson says that more supplements and topical skin care products are forthcoming in 2018. The products will be marketed as complementary to one another.
“We talk about living at the intersection of beauty and wellness, and Goop Glow, a skin care ingestible, is a perfect example of that,” she says. The company is working on a topical “glow” product to go along with that supplement. Lawson calls them “inner and outer products.” New combinations of topical and supplements for “aging skin” and “detox” are also in the pipeline. (All the beauty products Goop sells are designated as “clean” and it doesn’t allow certain ingredients, like parabens, to be in products it sells.)
Beauty supplements are a growing segment of the lucrative supplement market, but they can be potentially problematic because regulation is lax and scientific evidence of efficacy is scant. So-called clean beauty companies, which is what Goop is, often call out the mainstream beauty industry for a lack of regulation and transparency into ingredients, both of which are valid criticisms. But the same can be said of the supplement industry, yet companies like Goop are asking us to trust them with their supplements. Why should we?
Lawson, to her credit, was willing to engage in this conversation. “This is a question in life!” she said with a laugh. “I think it’s a great question, and I ask myself that question all the time too. The best that I can do internally is feel really confident that I’m doing the right thing and that the team is set up to do [the right thing]. ... For me, the scarier thing in the industry in general is raw material sourcing, because it’s really hard to tell, especially if you’re carrying third-party products, how far up the supply chain those raw materials have been vetted, and how carefully.”
Right now a company representative says Goop requires documentation from those outside companies that they meet the requirements that do exist and that they have “scientific substantiation” on ingredients. But it’s not clear how that is measured or who is evaluating it ultimately, which is the issue in the supplement industry as a whole.
Lawson admits that Goop does not yet have all the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet all the third-party supplements it sells but says they are currently setting up a “comprehensive process” to do this better, which includes creating an in-house “science team.” The company just hired two people with PhDs in nutritional science, one of whom is also an expert in Chinese medicine and will be on the product development team.
Goop’s wellness content is another frequent point of contention. In a way, Gwyneth Paltrow has brought a lot of pseudoscience into the mainstream, much like Oprah with Dr. Oz before her.
Members of the medical community like Dr. Jen Gunter have skewered the site’s content publicly, and rightly so. (See: the “yoni” jade egg controversy.) Presumably to be a tiny bit more transparent, Goop has quietly started adding a coding system to its stories. The categories, in the words of the company, are:
For Your Enjoyment: There probably aren’t going to be peer-reviewed studies about this concept, but it’s fun, and there’s real merit in that.
Ancient Modality: This practice is nearly as old as time — many find value in it, even if modern-day research hasn’t caught up yet (it’s possible the practice will never attract its attention).
Speculative but Promising: There’s momentum behind this concept, though it needs more research to elucidate exactly what’s at work.
Supported by Science: There’s sound science for the value of this concept and the promise of more evidence to come soon that may prove its impact.
Rigorously Tested: The validity of this concept is pretty much undisputed within the world of M.D.’s, D.O.’s, N.D.’s, and Ph.D.’s.
A recent story titled “How the World Nourishes Moms” was given an “ancient modality” tag. One on eating disorders earned a “supported by science” tag. While a Goop representative says that older stories will eventually be tagged, there still is no notation on some of the more notorious ones, like the jade egg story. Some of the most egregious examples of non-science are those by Anthony William, the so-called Medical Medium, who says he speaks to a spirit who gives him health information. A 2017 story by him about thyroid cancer was tagged “for your enjoyment.”
It’s so ridiculous that even Paltrow herself might think it’s absurd, telling USA Today, “I think it’s fascinating, but for me there are certain things that I think are great but I like to have all the information. I like to see empirical stuff.” But it should be noted that Goop also sells sprays by Paper Crane Apothecary that use “vibrational healing and reiki-charged crystals.” There’s even a “kid calming mist” that contains “a blend of sonically tuned gem elixirs,” whatever that means.
Lawson says Goop’s goal is to give consumers information and let them come to their own conclusions. “What we’re trying to do is not say, ‘You should use a jade egg,’ but, ’Here are some things we’ve been exposed to, and for some people they work incredibly well,’” she says. “We’re not doctors, and we’re not diagnosing you or telling you what to do. I think Gwyneth feels, as someone who is exposed to so many experts and to so many alternative theories, that it’s a service to put that out there and to allow people to evaluate it for themselves, and see if that might be something that might work for them.”
But of course Goop will sell it to you should you decide you want to try it, and it’s already proven that it is exceptionally influential with its fans. There really is no separation between editorial and e-commerce anymore. Goop started first as an editorial endeavor. But Lawson says that, at least in beauty, the editorial articles support what’s for sale in the shop and vice versa.
The site’s beauty editor, Jean Godfrey-June, is the well-respected former beauty director of the now-defunct Lucky magazine. She helps vet products that end up in the shop while also writing about them. “GP signs off on it, Jean signs off on it, we create the story, and then it’s like we’re serving up really complementary content and product at the same time,” explains Lawson.
To be fair to Goop, it’s now common for e-commerce shops to have blogs that support the products they sell. But consumers should understand that Goop is seemingly focused on growing its commerce business. It wants you to shop, and its stories are meant to give you ideas.
And it’s working. Goop landed $50 million in funding back in March, bringing its total investment to $82 million. It just wrapped up its third sold-out “In Goop Health” conference and is continuing to open a series of retail pop-up shops financed pretty much entirely by sponsors. Lawson says the brand’s permanent store in LA’s Brentwood neighborhood is doing well. Another permanent store is in the works, though she wouldn’t share details. In addition to a Sag Harbor pop-up this summer, Goop will also open a pop-up in London. It also hired its first chief marketing officer, a veteran of the luxury Yoox Net-a-Porter group, who will lead international expansion, according to Business of Fashion.
Despite its many detractors, Goop is doing just fine.