May 1, 2005
Collaborators: Metrecal Co., Schaumburg, Ill.; River West Brands, Chicago
Goal: To reinvent a ’60s icon for active baby boomers
The newest product offering for baby boomers is one they might remember from their youth — Metrecal, the original canned weight-loss drink. Thanks to an extreme makeover from the Metrecal Co., the drink that first was introduced in 1957 has hit the market as a snack beverage for active members of the 50-and-over crowd.
The Schaumburg, Ill.-based Metrecal Co., run by partners Michelle Healy and John Tree, chose its consumer target after research showed “active, healthy baby boomers are under-represented in grocery,” Healy says.
“These consumers are not buying into trend diets; they are eating regular meals. But they still snack more than any other group,” she says, which is why the drink is positioned as a snack rather than as the meal replacement it used to be.
Healy and Tree, two former Keebler executives, acquired the Metrecal license from River West Brands, Chicago, a firm that finds abandoned trademarks that have the potential to be brought back to life.
Healy says the product had 60 percent brand recognition among consumers, yet did not have the negative connotations that sometimes go along with a defunct brand. Instead, baby boomers recalled the brand with nostalgia, she says.
The company completely reformulated the product, starting with a base of skim milk, and added soluble fiber and 24 vitamins and minerals.
“We started from scratch,” Healy says. “We did interviews and qualitative work with baby boomers to find out what was important to them. The No. 1 priority was that it tastes great.”
The product has 120 calories and contains 4 grams of fiber, 30 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium and 8 grams of protein. The product carries the “Real” milk symbol, and is available in three flavors: Simply Chocolate, French Vanilla Bean and Strawberry Banana Twist. It retails for $4.99 to $5.99 per four-pack. If all goes well with the beverage rollout, the company plans to add snack bars to the lineup early next year.
Metrecal is in test markets with Wal-Mart and Rite Aid, and soon will move into some Walgreens locations. The company plans its first advertising push in the fall.