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Some wellness products growing ‘over 1,000%’ during pandemic: Ro CEO

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a wellness renaissance among consumers as stay-in-place orders took effect, based on some of the sales trends seen by companies, including telehealth company Ro.

“Some of our allergy products are up 30%, all the way to smoking cessation, which is upwards of 100%, to some of our sleep products that are actually over 1,000% month-over-month growth,” Zachariah Reitano, Ro’s co-founder and CEO, said in an interview during Yahoo Finance Breakouts. “We’re seeing pretty incredible growth across the board.”

Ro, launched in 2017 by Reitano, Saman Rahmanian and Rob Schutz, began as a digital health clinic called Roman focused primarily on treating men’s health concerns including erectile dysfunction via virtual doctor visits.

The New York-based company now also includes Rory, a female-centric digital health-care clinic, along with Zero for smoking cessation and Plenity for weight management, and runs a prescription delivery program to ship generic medications to consumers.

[Read more: Telehealth is going to ‘become the default’ for consumers: Ro CEO]

The most recent jump in sales underscores shifting trends in both the kinds of wellness products consumers have sought out during the pandemic and the way in which consumers have been getting them – namely, through digital channels as opposed to in-person visits. It also extended a run-up in overall sales for the venture-backed company, with Ro’s company-wide revenues increasing 330% between 2018 and 2019 (though Reitano declined to provide dollar amounts).

Ro's allergy, smoking cessation and weight management treatments posted steep month on month growth in April, CEO Zachariah Reitano told Yahoo Finance. (Courtesy of Ro)

Trends at other companies have also indicated a similarly turbo-charged shift toward wellness. The startup Vital Proteins, which makes collagen-supplemented powders, protein bars and capsules, saw demand rise more than 50% in the wake of the pandemic, and was already growing at a 100% year on year rate pre-outbreak, according to a recent Forbes report. The Santa Monica-based startup Byte, a teledentistry company that, like Ro, offers treatments without in-person doctors’ visits, saw first-quarter sales jump 1,000%, Bloomberg reported this month.

And it isn’t just startups that could be poised to reap the benefits. In a note in mid-May, Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink initiated coverage on WW (WW), the company former known as Weight Watchers, with a bullish Buy rating and said the “COVID-19 health crisis unlocked a durable trend” in which “wellness is being prioritized.” She estimated the “larger dialogue around wellbeing” implied a target addressable market for the consumer health marketplace of $300 billion.

Teladoc (TDOC), a publicly-traded competitor to Ro, said in its own quarterly results earlier late last month that it saw strong growth across all of its products, “not just general medicine,” CEO Jason Nathanial Gorevic said during a call with analysts. Business-to-business mental health and dermatology visits tripled in the quarter, Gorevic said, and the company overall reported a 92% surge in virtual visits during the first three months of the year.

And for Ro, April marked the company’s best for sales to date.

“In this instance, you have some companies whose revenue literally goes to zero or down 95%, unfortunately, and then you have others that are up 100%, 200%, 300%,” Reitano said.

“We would have hoped that people would be exposed to telemedicine by choice,” he added. “But right now, I think they've been exposed to it because they've been forced to, but are now seeing so many of the tremendous benefits that can come from it. And that has enabled our organization actually, to grow.”

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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