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Niche demographics shake up diets


The market for meal replacement ready-to-drink shakes is expanding beyond the need for a shake-shake-sensible-meal diet plan, or the need for a protein booster, with a number of niche marketing opportunities.

“In the evolving healthcare landscape, more healthcare providers and consumers are recognizing the significant role that nutrition plays in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in overcoming health setbacks,” noted Sondra Miller, divisional VP therapeutic nutrition for Abbott. “To stay independent longer and control rising health expenditures, many adults are actively seeking nutrition solutions that deliver healthy aging or recovery benefits and offer convenience and great taste.”

For example, Abbott launched Ensure Muscle Health for adults beginning to lose muscle after age 40, a much younger demographic from Ensure’s traditional baby-boomer customer. And in September, responding to the growing diabetes and obesity epidemic in the United States, Abbott introduced Glucerna Hunger Smart specifically for people with diabetes. The shakes offer 15 g of protein to help people manage hunger as part of a diabetes weight-loss plan.

And while these niche demographics represent additional growth opportunity for the liquid nutritional category, there also still is growth to be had within that traditional diet and protein position. For the 52 weeks ended Oct. 30, 2011, sales of the venerable Slim Fast diet shake were up 20.3%, and the popular protein RTD Muscle Milk was up 28.8%, according to SymphonyIRI Group data across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart).


The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Diet/Weight Loss Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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