To say that wellness is at the heart of the mission of internationally known brand Neal’s Yard would be an understatement. Founded in 1981, they are a modern apothecary whose ethos is highly regarded for being an organic, sustainable, and ethical company.
From small beginnings in a quiet corner of Covent Garden, they are now a global brand with a growing presence that spans across five continents. But even for a massively successful brand like Neal’s Yard, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to face some challenges this year. Luckily, the company was able to shift their focus to relying on online product sales and offering virtual therapy treatments through Mindbody’s Virtual Wellness Platform.
“In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was virtually impossible to know where this was going to go,” says Charlie McCorry, Head of Business Development at Neal’s Yard. “Luckily, our business was already online in terms of our product, but we quickly realised our focus needed to change to everything digital first for every channel of our business.”
Think the Virtual Wellness Platform is just for fitness businesses? Think again.
Prior to the pandemic, “One of the biggest things for us during this time was using the Mindbody system for our therapy business. My key focus was making sure we used it to the best of our ability,” McCorry says. The ability for their software system to accept online payments and offer online therapy sessions became an absolute must for the brand to continue to grow their customer base and connect with their community—even in the face of the coronavirus.
Historically, Neal’s Yard depended widely on the in-house experience to cater to their clients’ needs, but the two lockdowns the UK has faced due to the spread of the coronavirus didn’t stop them from offering their services. The company is known for unique offerings that don’t necessarily require a literal hands-on approach—services that have been extremely beneficial for their clients who are trying to adapt to this new normal.
“Our business isn't just about massages and facials—we’re not your typical beauty salon. We are a holistic centre and a treatment centre that has some of the best experts in the world,” says McCorry. "We offer counselling, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, hypnotherapy, meditation—these are all services numerous people around the world are benefitting from during a time like this.”
How going digital helped an internationally known brand go even more international
Using Mindbody’s Virtual Wellness Platform in a unique way to book appointments and deciding to competitively price their online therapy sessions allowed the already successful brand to actually grow their customer base by opening up their services to people located all over the world. With a digital presence, customers don’t have to live in the UK or travel there to get the full Neal’s Yard experience.
“In-house, these services are priced quite high, usually. And what we wanted to do was to be able to launch online therapy sessions to our customers and new customers as well, and say, ‘Look, you can reach us, you can reach our experts through this virtual platform, but at a very reasonable cost.’”
Needless to say, the platform was a necessity for Neal’s Yard and not only accommodated their existing client base but allowed them to reach clients all over the world who were looking for therapeutic relief from stress. In fact, the company has seen a huge spike in clients from various countries booking online therapy sessions.
“We have clients in the Netherlands, the US—we even had someone from South Korea the other day book a treatment. So, all of a sudden, we're able to open up our therapies to an extensive market and then an international one.”
In recent weeks, Neal’s Yard has been able to re-open a good portion of their locations to provide in-house therapy services to their local clientele—but with some areas in the UK still under lockdown and an international fan base, their digital presence is still very much alive. “If the store in their tier is closed, or if they can't travel, they have the option of getting their favourite therapists still online.”
By the looks of it, a hybrid-esque model is here to stay for Neal’s Yard to keep the masses happy and stress-free. Because they were so quick to pivot their focus to the digital aspects of their business, they have been able to grow throughout the coronavirus pandemic—and will continue to do so.