Not Just for Sports: Burt’s Bees’ launch of protein powder reflects category’s diversification

Photo: Burt's Bees/YouTube

Burt’s Bees is well known for its ubiquitous line of personal care products, from lip balm to hand lotion. It has now forayed into the dietary supplement space with plant protein powder.

“Venturing into this new category offers people a simple way to drink in the benefits of nature’s most powerful ingredients,” a Burt’s Bees spokesperson told NutraIngredients-USA.

The brand currently has five varieties of protein powder in its new Healthy Nutrition line, the first few of which were launched at the beginning of 2017. All powders contain protein from five plant sources: Pea, rice, flaxseed, sunflower seed, and oat, available for around $39.99 in a 21.5oz tub online through its website, Amazon, or select retailers nationwide.

The products tick off many of today’s trend checklist, from gluten-free to dairy-free to soy-free, “[But] it is not vegan,” the spokesperson said. “We chose to use honey as a natural sweetener, as a brand founded by a beekeeper over 30 years ago.”

Increased mainstream demand for protein

The product launch by Burts Bees, which was acquired by The Clorox Company in 2007, reflects the overall direction of where protein powders have been heading for a couple years—expanding beyond the bodybuilder consumer and becoming part of the daily nutrition regimen of many more consumers.

One indicator is the format of which these products are sold. Aside from the bulk tubs, Burt’s Bees’ plant protein also comes in individual single-serve packets, a trend which Euromonitor’s consumer health industry manager Matt Oster said reflects the changing consumer of protein powder.

“As the market has shifted a little bit and companies are changing how they pitch these products, [instead of] the big bulk format, you’re seeing more pack-size that’s attracting more casual users,” Oster told NutraIngredients-USA in a recent interview about sports nutrition.

Protein, not just for sports

While protein has traditionally been associated with sports nutrition as a supplement to increase muscle build and recovery, new protein supplement brands popping up, like that of Burt’s Bees, are marketing itself for holistic functions more than just muscles.

Burt’s Bees line includes protein powder marketed for ‘healthy radiance’ with 1/3 cup of vegetables and fruits for antioxidants, and ‘gut health’ with a probiotic blend (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) variety.

It’s a trend that Oster called the increasing malleability of distinctions between categories, where sports nutrition companies are venturing out of the category to attract non-core users and non-sports nutrition companies are increasingly targeting physically active consumers.

“Even though [sports nutrition companies] are succeeding in roping in consumers who are already athletes by nature, it’s a matter of segmenting and separating themselves from other products in the broader supplement space that can just as easily position themselves for muscle health,” he said.

In Burt’s Bees case, its new protein line feeds into consumer demand for protein (which some market experts believe originates from social media) while also addressing an intersection of consumers that are active but also nature-conscious.

“Our three plant-based protein formulas are crafted to help people achieve a balance of nutrients, to feed their body and lifestyle,” the Burt’s Bees spokesperson said.

Euromonitor’s Matt Oster will be speaking at out FREE Sports Nutrition Online Conference

Can anything stop the booming sports nutrition category as it broadens and softens and attracts more mainstream consumers? The US sports nutrition market is dynamic and diverse beast, valued at an eye-watering $10 billion for drinks, shots, bars, gels, and supplements.

But where is the innovation and which are the innovative brands? Which products are driving category growth, and what’s next for sports and lifestyle nutrition? Can anything stop protein? What’s happening with carbs? And what about the rise of nootropics for focus and decision making?

We’ll answer these questions and many more during our unique, free-to-attend Sports Nutrition Online Conference. NutraIngredients-USA will assemble sport nutrition scientists, product formulators, leading brands, and market experts to talk about what’s hot, what’s not, and how to stay ahead of the chasing pack. Click HERE to register.

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