Atkins Nutritionals has been ahead of the “diet” game for decades. Only in the past several years has mainstream science about weight loss and healthy eating finally caught up with the principles of high protein and low carbohydrate consumption that Dr. Robert Atkins laid out 40 years ago.
And now, the Atkins brand that he founded wants to remain ahead of developments. That’s why the Denver-based company is launching a new brand called Lift, which brings the high-protein, low-carb proposition in a more concentrated way to fitness enthusiasts rather than the traditional Atkins target of the weight-loss community.
“With this line, we’re targeting active protein seekers—people who really are looking at bars and drinks rather like fuel or to keep their energy levels high during the day and refuel after workouts,” Scott Parker, CMO of Atkins, told brandchannel. “What they’re looking for is a cleaner bar or drink without the baggage of sugar, carbs and/or calories.”
Specifically, Lift bars contain 20 to 21 grams of whey protein, while Lift Protein Drinks contain the same levels of protein but are water-based beverages, which stand out in a segment where most drinks, such as Muscle Milk, are milk-based.
brandchannel talked with Parker about the long march for the Atkins Diet and the brand’s aims for Lift:
bc: It’s been many years in the making, but science and the market finally seem to have come round to embracing Dr. Atkins’ principals, right?
Scott Parker: We’ve had 15 percent compound annual growth each year over the past few years. Though it’s not totally causal, the science has continued in a very powerful way to support not only the effectiveness of the Atkins way of eating for weight loss but also for myriad other health concerns, because it emphasizes protein and healthy fats. And we minimize carbs and sugar, which results in a more satisfied and energized life. In the short term, there are benefits because it minimizes the blood-sugar roller coaster. And in the long run, it helps avoid two of the biggest health issues of our time: heart disease and diabetes.
bc: Given this, why was it necessary to launch Lift?
Parker: A lot of people were buying our current products not really for weight loss but because they have a good level of protein and minimized sugar and carbs. The positioning of Lift isn’t for weight loss but for the sweet spots of benefits these active people are looking for. They have the highest levels of protein in our line from very high-quality whey protein. And with our water-based Lift Protein Drinks, you’re not putting 300 calories right back on with a hydrating drink after you’ve put time into the gym getting rid of calories. It gives you protein to rebuild your tissues but really has only 80 calories.
bc: What demographic target are you aiming at with Lift?
Parker: Millennial men and women—people who are 10 years younger than our weight-loss target.
bc: What does the Atkins brand already mean to millennials?
Parker: They don’t have the history but their awareness is actually quite high. And, interestingly enough, their consideration of Atkins is actually higher than among boomers. That’s because they don’t have some of the negative baggage that came from our brand’s being involved in the huge fad in the ’90s, when everyone was trying the Atkins Diet and no one actually read [Dr. Atkins’] book, or didn’t read it properly—and there were all sorts of urban legends about it all being based on eating bacon.
When it comes to eating, millennials are do-it-yourselfers and they’re really interested in the science. So what we’re doing is right in their wheelhouse. They’ve very favorably disposed to look for high-quality protein during the day.
bc: Is your marketing emphasis also aimed at millennials?
Parker: Yes, with Lift, we have a stronger emphasis on social media, and we’re developing a cadre of ambassadors who are telling their success stories that are fueled by Lift. There’s a whole culture of athletes and everyday wannabes who are switching to a more protein-based, low-carb, low-sugar way to train. Then it’s matter of them being excited and wanting to share their progress. It’s a different message than about losing weight.