This iconic protein shake brand is rebranding to win over female consumers

Muscle milk

Muscle Milk isn’t just for bros any more.

The protein brand is revamping its brand in a bid to win over female athletes and other consumers outside of its traditional market of young, weightlifting men.

“We really haven’t had a conversation with these active, female consumers,” Muscle Milk CEO Greg Longstreet told Business Insider. “Last year, through our product innovation, through our social media efforts, we started to have this conversation.”

On Tuesday, Muscle Milk is launching products including smoothies and new organic options, soon to be followed by a caffeinated line of called Coffee House. Simultaneously, the brand is launching updated packaging and simplified recipes for the 100 Calorie and Genuine protein lines, which have been reworked with fewer and cleaner ingredients.

New and redesigned Muscle Milk products Muscle Milk

“We’ve always done a great job appealing to the elite,” says Longstreet. “We’ve done a great job appealing to more and more athletes over time, but with new research… we had some opportunities to improve in a couple ways.”

To introduce the changes, the brand is rolling out a campaign intended to appeal to a broader consumer base, called Stronger Everyday. The campaign kicks off with a national TV ad featuring NBA star Stephen Curry.

Protein, once stuck in the realm of weightlifters looking to pack on muscle, has gone mainstream in the last ten years. In 2006, 39% of the US population said they sought out foods that are high in protein, according to the National Marketing Institute. By 2014, 53% were seeking high-protein options.

New consumers gravitating towards protein is a fortunate trend for Muscle Milk, a brand that executives consider “synonymous with protein.” However, the newly protein-hungry consumers are also more likely to see the brand as exclusively geared toward bodybuilding bros.

“You’ll run across the occasional female who thinks: ‘Muscle Milk? Does that mean I’m going to bulk up?'” says Muscle Milk CMO Nikki Brown.

The rebrand attempts to solve this problem.

New, lower-calorie options with revamped packaging and shorter ingredients lists aim to make Muscle Milk products more “approachable.” Looking at the brand’s marketing in the last year, the shift in perspectives is already apparent. Muscular athletes have been replaced by filtered photos of men and women participating in more accessible athletic activities, from pick-up football to yoga. 

Muscle Milk

Since Muscle Milk parent company CytoSport was acquired by Hormel for $450 million in 2014, the brand has boosted efforts to introduce new, differentiated products that can attract different types of customers, with options like an organic line.

Many of these new items, including lower-calories options and the smoothie line, “were created to meet those needs identified by active females,” in the company’s research, says Longstreet.

Muscle Milk currently is currently the No. 1 ready-to-drink protein beverage, measured by market share. The ready-to-drink market represents the future of the brand: more accessible options, aimed at anyone who has been caught up in the rise of protein, with less emphasis on protein powder.

Essentially, Muscle Milk wants to help everyone get huge in 2016 — or at least provide their daily protein fix. 

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