Once a staple of diehard gym goers and hardcore athletes, Muscle Milk is bulking up.
The PepsiCo-owned protein powder and shake offering is finding broader appeal among everyday consumers who are turning to it as a snack, incorporating it as a creamer into their coffee, using it to make ice cream, or adding it to baked goods like muffins. As consumers across multiple demographics keep a closer watch on their health and wellness, brands such as Muscle Milk are benefiting.
“We're very much like a performance-focused brand without question. But we are seeing that we're appealing to consumers and lots of other occasions outside of muscle recovery,” Marissa Pines, the senior marketing director for PepsiCo’s Gatorade portfolio, said in an interview. “We continue to see consumer adoption and appeal building grow in all these different occasions.”
Muscle Milk is a key component of PepsiCo’s platform geared toward athletic performance and wellness. Its presence in the space is led by its multi-billion-dollar Gatorade brand, which has launched new products recently including an energy drink with caffeine through Fast Twitch and rapid rehydration in Gatorlyte to cover more usage occasions and needs for individuals. Muscle Milk takes that a step further by covering protein and recovery.
Muscle Milk, which the snack and beverage giant acquired from Hormel Foods in 2019, posted double-digit growth in 2022 and is replicating that again this year, according to PepsiCo. The company said the brand also is gaining market share.
For the last 52 weeks ended May 23, sales increased 16.9% to $413 million, data provided by Circana, a Chicago-based market research firm, showed. At the same time, unit sales jumped 5.6%, a sign that demand, and not just a price increase, contributed to the brand’s success during the prior year. Despite the growth, Muscle Milk is only responsible for a tiny slice of the $86 billion in revenue PepsiCo generated in 2022.
To extend its growth, PepsiCo is exploring ways to bring Muscle Milk into other food and drink offerings in order to give consumers additional ways to get their protein, Pines said. While she couldn’t disclose what specific items could be rolled out with Muscle Milk, she said they are “looking into different forms and protein sources” while “continuing to show consumers different ways to use our current product.”
“Since acquiring the brand a few years ago, we've really been on this mission to make it more inclusive” as a way for consumers to own their strength, both physically and mentally, she said.
To help in that mission, Muscle Milk has become more engaged with consumers on social media who use the product in novel ways, Pines noted. And just this week, it partnered with WNBA All-Star Candace Parker and the National Fitness Campaign to democratize access to fitness through its cause-based initiative, “The Lifting Project.”