“Our classic Muscle Milk products, both in powder and ready-to-drink form, are used by different parts of our customer base – different people, different age groups and different activity levels – to support different things in their life,” Pickett says.
Moving forward, CytoSport is planning innovations that capitalize on the company’s science-driven focus, address mainstream consumer interest in protein-enhanced beverages and leverage its current go-to-market partners.
The company also welcomes the proliferation of entries in the protein beverage landscape, Pickett says.
“We are competitive by nature and welcome the competition that is shaping up in the protein-enhanced functional beverage category,” he says.
To expand its consumer base, CytoSport’s new products target previously untapped demographics, Pickett says.
“We think we are bringing the power of protein to just about anyone,” he says. “We have products in market or near-term innovation entries that address the needs of athletes that demand performance, active lifestyle people that want to look and feel good, ‘future actives’ or kids, ‘lifetime actives’ or seniors, and those simply wanting alternatives in the weight loss and management areas.”
The escalation in appeal of protein-fortified products has redefined CytoSport’s business, Pickett says.
“We started as a sports nutrition company and today see ourselves as running a functional food and beverage company that also makes sports nutrition products for people that lead healthy, active lifestyles,” he says.
Ready for growth
CytoSport was founded in 1998 by Greg Pickett, who remains involved in the company’s direction and product innovation, and his son Michael, who is currently CytoSport’s chief executive officer. In addition, Greg’s daughter Nikki Brown serves as the company’s chief marketing officer.
Over the years, CytoSport has recognized the widespread popularity of its products, says Michael Pickett.
“It really all starts with a great product,” Michael says. “Nike started with a great running shoe. We have a great core protein product and are taking that to users in adjacent categories with specialized functionalities. It really is simple: we know our customers use our product for many different reasons – meal replacement, snack, grab-and-go nutrition – so we are getting specialized and fashioning products to meet consumer needs in adjacent categories.”
In addition to new releases, the company remains dedicated to its flagship Muscle Milk product line. Muscle Milk contains a blend of protein, complex carbohydrates, functional fats, vitamins and minerals. The product is lactose-free and is available in various flavors, sizes and formats, including powders, bars and breakfast cereal.
“I think today, good-for-you products actually taste good,” Pickett says. “It used to be that a big bodybuilder would gulp down whatever he thought was going to help him reach his goals. … Remembering when Rocky was training, and it was classic, when he broke the whole eggs in a glass, and he nailed them down. He knew it was going to be good for him. It’s great protein, but not everybody is going to do that.”
The company recently added a Cake Batter variety to its line of 17-ounce Muscle Milk RTD beverages. The new flavor was inspired by the success of the flavor in Muscle Milk’s powdered form, Pickett says. The flavor’s popularity skews a little bit more female than male, he says. Appealing to both genders also represents a shift in the industry, which at one time was predominately male consumers, but has since evolved to roughly 50 percent male and 50 percent female, he says.
To keep up in the competitive category, CytoSport has a dedicated research and development team that can release a new RTD product in as little as three months from concept to finished product, Pickett says. The company manufactures its powdered products and pre-blends for the RTD lineup at its 250,000-square-foot facility in Benicia, Calif.