SlimFast shakes up its offerings and adds a dietitian in a bid for relevance
- SlimFast announced the addition of chewy cookies and chocolately bars to its menu to give dieters a decadent-tasting meal replacement, saying in a release the bake shop treats have a gram of sugar and up to 15 grams of protein.
- "The new Bake Shop line gives dieters another meal replacement solution, so they don't feel deprived while losing weight," SlimFast CEO Chris Tisi said in the release. "SlimFast drinkers have told us how much they love our shakes and smoothies, but miss the 'chew' of food. Now people can indulge in the baked treats they love, without the guilt."
- SlimFast has also hired registered dietitian Maryann Walsh as a consultant as the meal replacement company continues to expand on its scientific base, according to a statement. Walsh, who has a master’s degree in food and nutrition, will help develop scientific insights and consult on the SlimFast weight-loss plan, while providing consumers with her professional perspective on how to best manage their weight-loss journey.
SlimFast clearly is in a forward-thinking mode. "Our best ideas don't exist yet,” Tisi said in the company news release.
Providing more food options, bringing a dietitian on board and creating support programs certainly seem like a better way to help customers succeed, especially when compared with the typical marketing of yore. Decades ago, meal replacement companies tended to say something along the lines of “this product should be paired with a low-calorie diet and exercise program to achieve desired weight loss," leaving the rest up to consumers. Offering consumers support could be a smart company move to keep them motivated and buying SlimFast products.
The new campaign follows many iterations of the meal replacement giant, including a low-carb phase and a 3-2-1 meal plan meant to simplify SlimFast weight-loss programs. Its quick weight loss promises and celebrity endorsements made it a 1980s dieting mainstay — though different diet crazes like the low-carb fad of the late '90s and early 2000s, and trends like the paleo diet challenged its dominance.
Unilever bought the company for $2.3 billion from SlimFast founder S. Daniel Abraham in 2000. It was acquired by Dallas-based private equity firm Kainos Capital in 2014. The same year, Kainos purchased nutritional supplements firm Healthy Delights 2014, and its founder Tisi also took over as the SlimFast CEO. Soon after taking the helm of the diet plan giant, Tisi told the Palm Beach Post he had big plans for SlimFast, with the goal of taking back the innovation and industry leadership position SlimFast had before the sale to Unilever.
Still, onlookers must wonder whether Tisi’s proposed changes will be enough to boost SlimFast at a time when “diet” foods are falling out of favor with the public. SlimFast certainly has widespread brand recognition, but the company will have to sway consumers who may have moved on to the idea of fresh, whole foods and a moderate lifestyle as the best way to long-term weight loss success. Certainly other successful diet brands of the past have tried to adapt to today's consumers, like Atkins Nutritionals' attacks on "hidden sugars" consumed through carbohydrates. Whether they are successful or fade into memory as past fads has yet to be seen.