Through an exclusive partnership with CVS Pharmacy, Bayer has brought one of its European brands to North America.
Entirely reimagined with a new look and name, Stem & Root, the brand made its U.S. debut at select CVS locations in California and online on Dec. 14, 2019, and has since begun rolling out to other states. It currently spans three “plant-powered,” over-the-counter supplements for the mind and body:
- "Aches Goodbye" for joints and muscle pain relief, priced at $23.99 for a box of 50 caplets.
- "Stress Less" for stress relief and nervous system support, priced at $15.99 for a box of 120 tablets.
- "Sleep Well," containing melatonin and passionflower, for better sleep and relaxing the brain, priced at $15.99 for a box of 30 tablets.
Around the same time as Stem & Root began rolling out to stores, CVS also launched a new wellness/vitamins private label dubbed Live Better by CVS Health. The retailer has cross-merchandised the two brands including at one store in Palm Desert, CA, where it employed an endcap display to spotlight both of the new “featured brands” in June. Branded materials from both brands made up the display, including Stem & Root shelf units and Live Better signage. Stem & Root also receives its own dedicated endcap display.
Another CVS store in California positioned Stem & Root SKUs next to a branded "plant-based healthcare" shelf sign at an end of an illuminated gondola display merchandising a slew of other alternative care items, including CBD topicals and CVS' entire Live Better private label. Stem & Root products were additionally stocked on a branded shelf unit within a "Not Sleeping Well?" sleep aid-themed endcap display at a CVS in West Columbia, SC, outfitted with a "New at CVS" shelf talker.
Other support for Stem & Root's launch at CVS so far has included a few subtle circular features and a dedicated brand shop at cvs.com/stemandroot. The page positions the brand as providing “proven plant power” (the brand’s tagline) and states it's "Backed by 23 clinical studies on products and ingredients." Each of the three SKUs are spotlighted on the page, offering a drop-down “see more” button for additional information. A “Shop” button links to each individual product page. However, each item currently appears to be sold out.
The brand additionally operates its own standalone, mobile-friendly website (stemandroot.us), social media handles and Pinterest account. The website does not function as an e-commerce site and instead directs to cvs.com for purchasing. The brand also has commissioned a slew of influencers and bloggers to support.
Many paid influencers (and some branded P-O-P materials) claim Stem & Root products are plant-based, but the Stem & Root Goodbye Aches label says otherwise, noting gelatin — derived from collagen taken from animal body parts — as an ingredient. CVS covers its tracks with multiple legal notes on its website stating the brand's claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Germany-based pharmaceuticals manufacturer Bayer worked with New York-based Beardwood&Co. to rebrand the European offering for a North American audience. Tasked with disrupting the OTC and naturals aisle, the branding agency created a "fully realized" new brand positioning, name, packaging, voice, messaging and identity geared toward millennial shoppers who prefer natural solutions, according to a case study within beardwood.com.
“We created the name Stem & Root along with the tagline, ‘Proven Plant Power’ to alleviate concerns about efficacy and clearly position the brand around natural ingredients backed by clinical trials,” Beardwood&Co.’s site communicates. “At the core of our logo is a custom ampersand that incorporates a leaf and plant photography to create a bold, striking logo that juxtaposes modern design and natural imagery. Even though the package is dense with information, it feels premium, simple and easy to understand. A brand panel tells the brand story and two color-coded product panels explain ingredients and how the product works.”
The rebrand aligns closely with exclusive retail partner CVS’ Tested to be Trusted program, which includes higher vitamin and supplement ingredients standards, as well as its overall business and product assortment strategy. The retailer has been relatively persistent in its output of more natural, transparent, better-for-you offerings and marketing materials (e.g. Beauty Unaltered) across categories as well as its efforts to prioritize those products. It's also been eying more indie products and brands geared toward Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers.
CVS is also no stranger to exclusive retail partnerships. The retailer collaborated with Kiss Cosmetics in 2018 to launch K-beauty-inspired brand Joah, which has since expanded multiple times amid success among shoppers. CVS also teamed up with on-demand beauty service Glamsquad in 2019 to exclusively launch a new line of hair care and beauty tools dubbed GSQ by Glamsquad.