Gainful CEO Dean Kelly: ‘Target Partnership Marks First Foray into Retail’

Gainful, a leading nutrition brand known for its personalized supplements, has announced its first retail expansion in partnership with Target Corporation.

Gainful Ceo Dean Kelly: 'Target Partnership Marks First Foray Into Retail'

Gainful, a leading nutrition brand known for its personalized supplements, has announced its first retail expansion in partnership with Target Corporation. This strategic collaboration aims to make Gainful’s high-quality, customized nutritional products more widely available to consumers across the United States.

What makes the experience even more personalized to Gainful is the guided post-purchase experience. By purchasing at Target, consumers are still able to gain access to our curated web experience that hosts guidance, tools, and recipes, along with the ability to chat with RDs.


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Target guests can customize their protein in-aisle in three easy steps and tap into more than 70 different opportunities to personalize this system catered to their preferences and needs.


  1. Pick a protein (Do you prefer Vegan, or Whey-based?)
  2. Pick a flavor
  3. Add any goals you want to focus on  (Lose Weight, Gain Muscle, Muscle Recovery)


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Since its inception, Gainful has been committed to providing personalized performance nutrition to meet the unique needs of each individual. By leveraging advanced technology and expert guidance, the company has created over 1 million personalized supplement blends based on customers’ specific goals, dietary preferences, and lifestyle factors. With this retail expansion, Gainful aims to bring its innovative approach to health and wellness to a broader audience through Target’s extensive network of stores. 



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The partnership with Target marks a significant milestone for Gainful as it transitions from a solely online-based business to a multi-channel retail presence. As part of the collaboration, a curated selection of Gainful’s products will be available at select Target locations nationwide. This includes their popular protein powders, pre-workout supplements, and hydration formulas, all of which are designed to support optimal health and performance.

“We are thrilled to partner with Target and bring our personalized nutrition solutions to a wider audience,” said Gainful CEO, Dean Kelly. “Our mission has always been to empower individuals to take control of their health and wellness journey, and this collaboration allows us to reach even more people who can benefit from our customized approach.”



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In addition to making their products more accessible, Gainful also plans to enhance the in-store experience for Target shoppers by offering personalized consultations with their team of registered dietitians. This service, which has been a cornerstone of Gainful’s online platform, will now be available to Target customers seeking expert advice on their nutritional needs and supplement choices.

“What, when, and how we fuel our bodies can have a big impact on achieving what we set out to do each day. By bringing our network of Gainful nutritionists to Target, guests across the country can now receive the same level of personalized nutrition care as elite athletes,” said Tara D. Thies, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Gainful.

As Gainful continues to grow and expand its reach, this partnership with Target represents a significant step forward in making personalized nutrition more accessible to consumers across the country. With a shared commitment to promoting health and wellness, both companies are poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of their customers.

We sat down with for an exclusive interview with the CEO of Gainful, Dean Kelly to explore the evolution of the DTC brand and it’s exciting foray into mass retail:

1. Can you share with us the journey of Gainful from its inception to becoming a successful DTC brand and eventually launching in Target?

Finding the right supplements for your body can be a confusing journey for many. Gainful began when our co-founders Eric Wu and Jahaan Ansari wanted to make a better choice for their health and nutrition. When Eric stopped by his local supplement store looking for a protein powder. Despite the plethora of options, he felt confused by the floor-to-ceiling rows of giant tubs with gimmicky names and unpronounceable ingredients. He left overwhelmed, still questioning which supplements were right for him. 

That day, Eric returned to his college apartment and set out to make his own protein powder – something with clean ingredients that was tailored exactly for him. A supplement that he could trust and understand. 

Shortly after launching and almost four years ago, Eric and Jahaan asked me to lead Gainful as its CEO. Leading a company whose goal is to make every person in the world feel their best? It gave me goosebumps then and it still gives me goosebumps today. 

Over 3.5 million personalized consultations later, we’re not slowing.

Fast forward to 2022 and Gainful had amassed a cult following through our personal approach to protein and supplements offered online. We had a trusted brand that was now selling personalized protein, pre-work out, hydration and performance boosters (creatine, fiber and collagen). We knew now was the perfect time to place our unique and science-backed product in the hands of the mass consumer – creating access to personalized, premium products for anybody who wants to feel and perform better, no matter where they wanted to shop. 

We were ready to take the billions of pieces of data we had online and build something truly unique offline. 

2. What were some of the key challenges Gainful faced during its growth, and how did you overcome them to maintain the brand’s core values and customer loyalty?

Other protein supplements take a one-size-fits-all approach. But no two people are exactly the same – whether it be their dietary restrictions, their flavor preference, their goals, when or how they work out, their knowledge, their motivation, their use of connected fitness, where they shop, and so on and so on. 

We take a different approach at Gainful. Whether a consumer is looking to bulk up, build lean muscle, push their endurance, or simply move their body —we formulate personalized products to meet individual and evolving goals. In addition to performance nutrition, Gainful provides expert 1-1 guidance from Registered Dietitians (RDs) to our customers for free, along with educational content tailored to them. It’s truly an end-to-end personalized journey for the online customer. 

Like all cult-loved brands, keeping close to the brand ethos while we scale was, and continues to be, paramount. Scaling a brand that has personalization at its core is often difficult, and there are many brands no longer around that have failed. But it is hard. Fortunately, we work with amazing suppliers – some of whom we’ve been with since the beginning, allowing us to continue to deliver premium, personal products every single time.

Moving into Target gave us the opportunity to think through a big challenge: How do you take a personalized subscription product into the retail aisle at scale?

We developed a really unique shopping experience on the shelf that makes it very easy for Target guests tocustomize the right nutrition product for them. 80% of Americans find shopping for supplements really stressful and confusing. We wanted to change that.

In addition to making it easy to build a system for yourself, understanding that everyone is different and wanting to bring unwavering nutrition accessibility to the Target consumer, we also invested in building out a unique, guided post-purchase experience. Customers can access a QR code on the bottom of the protein lid, driving them to a curated web experience that hosts tools, recipes, and a direct line to a team of RDs, where they can ask questions and receive 1:1 guidance on how to meet their health and nutrition goals – a true point of difference of Gainful to other protein and nutrition brands.

3. How has Gainful’s marketing strategy evolved over time, particularly with the increasing importance of social media platforms and influencer partnerships?

Many brands in our category have a very narrow way of thinking about their audience. But Gainful caters to the unique individual – our customers range from Olympic athletes to people trying to feel good running after their kid in the park. We had a college student tell us that Gainful helped them get into their D1 school on the same day that we had a 95-year-old contact us to share that she swears by Gainful as the reason she is able to go on long walks each day. What unites our audience is a strong internal pull to grow, improve and make big personal gains throughout their life. This diverse audience has heavily influenced our human-first approach to marketing and is the inspiration behind our recent brand work. 

To introduce Gainful to a whole new audience at Target, we launched a marketing campaign that celebrates the unique ways people gain from investing in their personal performance, no matter who you are. For so long, “Gains” in this category has been just about gaining muscle. Gainful is changing that. From gaining strength or power to gaining confidence, joy or years to your life, Gainful’s new ‘Make Your Gain’ campaign aims to support consumers on their journey to meet their goals and make serious personal gains. This campaign is coming to life across TikTok, Instagram, brand partnerships, and including heavy investment in content creators and influencers. 

While Gainful has taken a digital-first approach to marketing since day one and built an impressive acquisition engine on social media, our new marketing approach places an even greater focus on the power of organic social, influencers and content creators. We knew that social video was the best place for us to demonstrate the unique customization process that goes into creating your own Gainful blend at Target.   

4. What factors led to the decision to enter into an exclusive partnership with Target, and how do you envision this collaboration benefiting both Gainful and Target customers?

Being a personalized brand, we know that everyone’s path to feeling and performing better looks different, and we wanted a retail partner who would help us usher in a whole new experience when it comes to shopping for supplements. A retailer willing to disrupt the status quo and re-think how a customer should shop for this category in-store. A retailer who would allow us to be true to our brand, which is based on treating everyone differently and customizing a solution for them. 

Some retailers are more willing than others to take bigger risks and bets when they have the conviction that what they are going to do WILL work. Target is that retailer. Our main goal is to offer millions of people access to premium, performance nutrition made for them. By bringing Gainful to Target, we’re making elite nutrition (previously only available to professional athletes) accessible to most Americans. Target has an incredible track record of launching DTC brands in their stores, allowing them to be true to their brand, so we knew they would be the best partner for our first foray. 

We’re proud that Gainful will be the first in-store customizable nutrition experience at Target. Target has seen success with personalized experiences in other categories, so we’re also looking forward to providing them with this option in the nutrition space. We feel confident that Gainful embodies what many Target guests are looking for – clean, sustainable, minority- or BIPOC-owned brands, and personalized. We hope to be the next Target brand they fall in love with. 

Gainful is also a proud part of Target Zero, an initiative by the retailer to help shoppers discover products or packaging that reduces waste. Target Zero directly aligns with our mission and values as a brand, and Target is allowing our brand to reach new customers all while doing good for the environment. 

5. As Gainful expands its distribution channels through wholesale agreements like the one with Target, how do you plan to maintain the personalized and customized shopping experience that your brand is known for?

A key aspect of personalized shopping is being available where a customer wants to shop. American consumers are craving convenience – showing up where they purchase their wellness, household, or grocery products gives us an opportunity to be front of mind. 

3 in 4 Americans take supplements daily, but the majority find shopping for them stressful – in particular, in-store where they are trying to make their own decision with almost always zero assistance. Before Gainful, customers – like Eric and Jahaan – would stand in a completely jam-packed aisle with many options but no clear way to understand what was right for them. Through Target, we’ve really distilled the customer experience through a guided process to be as easy and completely customizable as possible. 

Target guests can customize their protein in aisle in three easy steps and tap into more than 70 different opportunities to personalize this system catered to their preferences and needs.

What makes the experience even more personalized to Gainful is the guided post-purchase experience. By purchasing at Target, consumers can still access our curated web experience that hosts guidance, tools, and recipes, along with the ability to chat with RDs. 

As we release more personalized products with Target (additional protein types, flavors, goals, more categories), this will offer even more opportunities for customers to personalize their system, or shop for their family and choose products tailored to those family members. 

In relation to other distribution agreements, we will always prioritize leveraging data specific to that customer or partner, and tailor a solution of products specifically for them. For example, if we were to partner with a yoga chain, that experience would look very different from if we were to partner with a connected rowing company. It is a different workout, a different customer, usually a different goal, and the nutrition you get should always be tailored. 

6. Looking ahead, what are your plans for further growth and innovation within the DTC space, and how will Gainful continue to differentiate itself from competitors in the performance nutrition market?

How will we continue to differentiate ourselves? By continuing to treat every customer as an individual and continue to make their interaction with Gainful feel as if it was uniquely for them. It doesn’t happen overnight, and there is a long way to go, but we won’t stop until we do. 

Our expansion into Target marks a pivotal moment for us, and we’re excited to offer Gainful’s personalized approach to nutrition to millions of Americans. Ensuring our in-store experience at Target is best-in-class remains our core focus at the moment. 

As we look ahead, we have a lot of exciting announcements and opportunities in the pipeline for 2023 – new personalized products, new categories, new (huge) partnerships, new flavor offerings, new certifications, and so much more. Gainful has, but we have been successful by remaining focused and prioritized – something we will always continue. 

There is so much opportunity for us – it makes me pumped to come to work each day. 

I would encourage RETAILBOSS readers to follow @gainful on social media to stay in the know.

For more information about Gainful and its range of personalized supplements, visit To find a Target store near you that carries Gainful products, use the store locator on Target’s website.

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