•Faced with more barriers than ever to restorative sleep, consumers are either de-prioritizing rest or turning to potentially unhealthy substances to get some needed shut-eye.
•While there are various aids and solutions on the market like sleep meditation apps or supplements, many of them take a single-pronged approach, addressing isolated elements involved in getting proper zzzs or involving routines that aren't realistic for many.
•Remrise is a new kind of DTC holistic sleep solution that combines an East-meets-West supplement regimen with opt-in data tracking and individualized sleep coaching to design personalized and sustainable routines that foster restful nights and productive days. PSFK sits down with founder Veronica Lee for all the details on building an integrated system for successful sleep:
PSFK: To start, what are some of the broader shifts you're seeing take place right now in the wellness space?
Veronica Lee: At this point, there's a shift around people trying to take a much more active stance with their health. There's a bit of distrust around the traditional healthcare system, the pharmaceutical industry. People are trying to seek their own education and information.
We're getting more details on how bad lack of sleep is for your health. We're also getting more info on the fact that there's no good solution out there. I think there's a lot more conversation around this. People are trying to take an active approach instead of just listening to what doctors say and the traditional system.
I think the conversation is also starting to shift. When I was starting my career in finance, I never slept. It was a badge of honor to not get sleep and to work really hard, stay up late and get up early. That is finally starting to change. We really want to be at the forefront of that conversation and help people prioritize sleep—making sleep cool.
What do you think are some of the unmet needs that are driving these shifts and new demands from consumers?
It's just getting harder and harder to get quality sleep and even fall sleep. There are technological distractions. The world is becoming more and more fast-paced. It's just becoming a bigger problem for people. Many are abusing these sleeping drugs—they're not meant to be taken on a daily basis.
There aren't good solutions. This is why people are knocking themselves out with Ambien, prescription drugs. They smoke weed, they drink alcohol, they use Benadryl, ZzzQuil, NyQuil.
All of these are preventing you from getting quality sleep. You're not getting REM cycles. Even if you knock out for 12 hours, you're not actually getting restorative sleep.
On the sleep-aid front, that's what's out there. Then there are sleep tips. I find those largely ineffective, too, because while they articulate what the perfect hygiene would be, no one is actually going to follow the advice. It's very hard to commit to never drinking coffee, never drinking alcohol, falling asleep by 9:30 or 10:00 PM, etc. I find those not empowering in the sense that people will read them and feel like they have failed already.
A lot of services such as Calm and Headspace are calling themselves sleep apps now because the best use case for a lot of them is the sleep meditation. While I think meditation is great, it takes a lot of practice, and is a journey in itself. Many people feel they're not good at it.
What we're doing with our solution is disrupting all these different elements and bringing them together in a holistic way that creates a continuous feedback loop, from the physical to the digital component and experience.
A lot of solutions tend to focus on technology, or service, or product, but you guys have decided to combine them. What motivated you to pursue this approach?
With our holistic system, we really try to understand the root causes and how to balance the different elements of your health. Also, while sleep is probably one of the most foundational elements to affect health, it can often be the first one that gets de-prioritized. We wanted to build something makes it possible for people to keep sleep a priority.
Tell us more about how the Remrise system works.
We're trying to reinvent what a sleep aid is. What we're creating is an all-natural, plant-based solution. We're combining the best of Eastern and Western ingredients, which means taking a lot of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs that have been used for thousands of years. It's basically like taking sleep food. It's plants—like dragon eye fruit—that help you with relaxation.
Consumers are looking for personalization. I think that people really seek self-discovery. That's why, for us, we spent a lot of time creating our quiz. We spent a lot of time developing, with the app, what aspects we're going to ask customers about on a daily basis and what kind of coaching and recommendations we will give them.
We find out if consumers have more trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, what their lifestyle choices are, how often they consume caffeine and alcohol, how much stress they have. With all this data, we categorize them in one of five profile types. These are based on these sleep issues and take in a lot of traditional Chinese medicine patterns. Once we have them into one of these profile types, we give them formulas that they rotate through every four days so that they don't develop a tolerance to a specific one.
Then we create a digital experience. We have a sleep companion app. It will collect passive data, connecting to existing trackers like Fitbit or Apple HealthKit to grab your REM cycles, your deep sleep cycles, bedtimes, wake times, etc. Then we also engage the customer on active data—when they are drinking caffeine, all their lifestyle choices. We then take all that data and make recommendations on how to improve sleep over time. We incorporate sleep coaching and meditation. We're really trying to understand their preferences, their lifestyles, and use that data to create a routine that's sustainable.
Education and transparency are also key for us. We've spent a lot of time sifting through research and selected pieces to put on our website. We'll continue to inform the consumer about sleep issues, these different ingredients that we're using and different sleep hygiene tips. We also offer full transparency on our whole supply chain, from the resourcing of the ingredients, to where and how they're manufactured, to all the testing we've done. We want the customers to feel very comfortable with everything we're providing them.
After you take our quiz and make a purchase, you'll get a subscription. It's a monthly box of the regimen with the four different rotating formulas. From there, consumers can opt into the sleep coaching piece, which occurs on a weekly basis. Through the app, we also interact with consumers daily through personal notifications.
Remrise launched DTC toward the end of 2019. Could you tell us about your positioning, and plans for engagement moving forward?
Our target market is quite broad. We are trying to position ourselves as experts on sleep, with a diverse advisory board and range of editorial content. We want to reach people, whether through social media, TV advertisements or video content, and we're also talking to some podcast hosts. So far, we're really enjoying our conversations with people like you.
Lead image: Courtesy Remrise