To: Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO of Goop

Dear Gwyneth,

Goop sits among a special class of brands that have used the celebrity and values of their founders—authenticity, honesty, humility and a dose of luxury—to cultivate a passionate audience. What smartly started as a media play is evolving into a thriving consumer goods business spanning multiple product categories.

However, during its ascent, Goop has enthralled some and alienated others. Some of your products and marketing have received criticism for their lack of scientific grounding.

Regardless of the company’s internal opinion on these developments, it’s the opinion of potential customers that matters most. As the beauty and health market heats up, and as shoppers become more conscious of what they buy and put on and in their bodies, the companies with open commitments to honesty and transparency will win. Those that appear to deceive or rip off customers will not scale.  

From the outside looking in, it feels like the various controversies surrounding Goop’s products have slowly forced the brand to build up a shell of defiance—which is wholly visible in the brand’s marketing as it tries to rebut claims before they arise. This has pushed the brand further away from the values that you established upon the brand’s founding.

Here’s one idea about how to reset the brand’s perception for potential customers.

Launch a new line called Snake Oil.

Hear me out. Goop’s products are polarizing. While perhaps an asset in the beginning as you built an audience of early adopters, it will become a liability in the future as the brand needs to keep doubling revenue and reaching new customers.

For many shoppers, Goop’s image is linked to pseudoscience—not to mention the sticker shock on its products. Both problems will only multiply with growth. But they can be solved with a big dose of humility and a dash of humor.   

What if Goop created a whole new product line called Snake Oil that featured items specifically upheld by established science, placing concerted effort on full transparency from an ingredient, production and marketing perspective. The packaging would highlight endorsements from scientists and consumer advocates (maybe even former critics), the product names would reflect factual but non-embellished benefits, and the advertising would feature customers with real testimonials, who outline the benefits behind the products. Despite its label as snake-oil, Goop’s new collection will be anything but. The line could start with actual oils, and later expand into other products.

Sure, this idea might seem trite, and maybe you don’t believe that Goop has any problem to solve in the first place. But as the company aims to hit ever-increasing revenue tiers—a necessity given its sizeable external funding—the brand needs to reevaluate how it will translate its founding values into a welcoming and accessible brand that attracts millions of people.

You have the opportunity to shore up your reputation by exploiting the very language critics use to condemn Goop. This would both prove them wrong and help turn Goop into a sustainable company. The Snake Oil line is one of many ways to achieve it—let me know if you’d like to hear more.

Richie Siegel
Founder and CEO
Loose Threads