PepsiCo’s emphasis on a broader array of fitness-minded consumers appears to be paying off for Muscle Milk, which PepsiCo acquired in early 2019. The brand grew by about +15% in 2021, compared to low-single-digit percentage declines in the three years before the acquisition, according to PepsiCo. Pandemic-related closures of gym and fitness centers, which were a primary channel for Muscle Milk, had brought even more pain for the brand in 2020, when sales declined about -15%. Brand leaders used the time to reformulate the protein-rich drink for better taste and redesign the product’s packaging, all in support of expanding Muscle Milk’s branding and positioning to attract a larger target audience, said PepsiCo’s VP of Protein & Fitness Brands Anuj Bhasin. “It’s finding the proper balance between our traditional roots in more masculine weightlifter spaces, and fitness exercisers that would help bring in a more inclusive audience,” Bhasin told BD in an interview. “That’s where we’re focused, bringing both audiences along.” PepsiCo also shed prior messaging designed to promote Muscle Milk as a lifestyle brand. Household penetration last year jumped by +40%, Bhasin said. Muscle Milk finished 2021 at No. 4 with a 6.8 market share of the US nutrition shake category (see table).
The brand’s package redesign featuring a double “MM” logo is being rolled out this year in time for the latest version of the brand’s “Own Your Strength” marketing campaign launched last week. The campaign features pro basketball player Candace Parker and professional football player Tua Tagovailoa. It includes a “Lifting Project” contest allowing consumers to apply to become a Certified Strength Trainer for underserved communities.
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