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How to Get Your Healthy Products Into Thrive Market

How to Get Your Healthy Products Into Thrive Market

By Rachel Cernansky, New Hope Network

For natural brands looking to reach a core clientele, Thrive Market has proven a hot place to be. At just a year and a half old, Thrive has more than 300,000 paid members, is adding about 10,000 a week, and has sales north of $100 million annually. Jeremiah McElwee, vice president of purchasing and merchandising, shared some insights on what brands that want to get into Thrive should know.

First and foremost, Thrive is dedicated to being a GMO-free marketplace. “If you’re not either USDA Organic, non-GMO verified or using ingredients sourced from countries that do not permit GMOs, then definitely go back to the drawing board,” he said. “That’s a wall we’re putting up pretty firmly.”

Beyond that, what Thrive is looking for is differentiation and quality—products that will bring something new to its marketplace, not just another version of a product it already carries. Brands with products that stand out from the rest of the lot, or that solve a problem in a category, will appeal to Thrive. Another kale chip will not. “If there hasn’t been an organic option, or if you’re able to raise the bar in some way, we’re definitely interested,” he said. “We’re looking for quality enhancement.”

Being on-trend is especially important because, as an online marketplace, Thrive gets almost instant feedback from its customers. While gluten-free remains a strong category, for example, McElwee noted that people have started to understand that gluten-free doesn’t automatically translate to healthy—and offerings that cater to that understanding are on the rise. “More and more entrepreneurs are starting to develop truly healthy gluten-free options,” he said.

Paleo is also huge and growing for Thrive, as is coconut—almost anything with coconut, from coconut milk to oil to coconut aminos—and products that boast superfoods or have some other kind of added value. Beyond those, said McElwee, “The overall broader trend is toward more healthful foods—lower sugar, less-is-more in terms of ingredients, and so on.”

Like elsewhere, snacks are a solid growth category, and Thrive is always looking for healthy, cleaner snacks—especially options that are Paleo-friendly, allergen-friendly, gluten-free or vegan, and that use more natural sweeteners.

Something to note for brands operating in cleaning or personal care products and other categories outside of food: Thrive uses ratings from the Environmental Working Group when evaluating products.

Outside of the product itself, Thrive is on the lookout for brands that solve some of the challenges that come with ecommerce. McElwee points to Yumbutter as an example, saying: “They’re doing an amazing job of combining superfoods with almond and peanut butter, but they’re in pouches. They’re way easier to ship than jars. That’s just an example of solving an operational challenge in the process of making a really exciting product.”

For brands that think they meet Thrive’s criteria, McElwee recommends simply following the instructions online for getting a review from their buyers, who review submissions every month. Where products are a good fit, Thrive will work with the brand to forecast demand, no matter its size. “We work with a lot of small, up-and-coming entrepreneurial brands, so we’ve gotten really accustomed to working with brands of all sizes,” he said.

A.J. Ali

A.J. Ali, "The Wellness Motivator!" is an award-winning writer, producer, actor, host, voice over artist, emcee and creative visionary. He is the Founder and Executive Producer of EclipseVSC since 1999. A.J. is currently producing and hosting the multimedia wellness entity "Wellness 101" with a vision of helping to change the focus of healthcare in America from sickness to wellness ( To launch the Wellness 101 brand, A.J. did the impossible. Starting with only $500, he traveled through all 50 states in 101 days June 16 through September 24, 2014 -- starting in Melbourne Beach, FL and ending up on a sun soaked beach in Hawaii after changing lives in all 50 states. His "True Champion's 30-Day Challenge" book is transforming lives nationwide ( Now, Wellness 101 is taking human transformation to another level through holistic wellness. A.J. has more than 30 years experience in sports and entertainment as an athlete, artist and social entrepreneur. He has founded and owned two pro soccer teams and has spearheaded hundreds of successful projects. A.J. created and starred in the TV show "Good Fellas of Baltimore" on Fox in 2011, which raised more than $250,000 for charities in Baltimore and inspired fans to join the cast to help people in need. As an on-air talent and voice over artist, his enthusiastic love of people makes him believable and inspirational. As a wellness speaker and emcee, he is inspiring. An accomplished writer with a conversational style, his work is transformative. His 2007 song "Through the Darkness, Into the Light," compilation music CD "Survivor Celebration" and Survivor Celebration campaign helping cancer survivors won the coveted Hollywood FAME Award for National Community Service. As a philanthropist and entrepreneur, A.J. has raised more than $25 million for charities. He teaches his charity event success methods through a workshop called "MAKE IT RAIN." He is proud to be a U.S. Air Force Veteran (83-87). His mantra is "LOVE is the answer." He is an avid golfer.

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