Slim-Fast No Longer Resonates With Many

In a world where consumers are beginning to think more in terms of wellness than dieting, is former megabrand Slim-Fast® a dinosaur? Based on the brand’s sales numbers, which have plummeted 40% over the last four years to $196 million, the answer might be yes. So why have consumers left in droves, even after Slim-Fast’s relaunch in the early 2000s as Slim-Fast Optima with half the sugar of the original?

“The quick crash diet is a thing of the past,” says Mark Baynes, the chief marketing officer for Kellogg’s, maker of rival Special K, which now markets itself as part of a larger diet plan. “People are happy to be seen eating Special K,” Baynes says. “People might not be so happy to be seen walking around with Slim-Fast.” Melissa Wood, a 42-year-old marketing executive in Harlow, England, agrees. “I see Slim-Fast as a down-market product,” says Wood, who has been on the diet twice. “It’s a quick fix and not the right thing for me. The fake flavoring and sugar are not part of healthy living in the 21st century.”

Perhaps Unilever, parent company of Slim-Fast, agrees. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, doesn’t say much about the brand these days except to say that he’s looking to get rid of “orphan” food brands.

The creator of the Slim-Fast brand, S. Daniel Abraham, takes a dim view of the situation. “Unilever is sleeping on it. If I still owned it, it would not be that way. I would be fighting harder. It’s a damn shame.”

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Children Sharing a Shake, image © krzyboy2o / Wikimedia.

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