Benecol smoothie courts younger cholesterol-lowering market

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Marketing

McNeil Nutritionals has launched a Benecol smoothie in the UK and Ireland in a bid to reach a younger audience with a product it will market on dual benefits – plant stanol-derived cholesterol-lowering and its fruit content.

The product will retail for about €4 per bottle – a slight mark-up on non-fortified smoothies from major brands such as innocent – with 45-55-year-olds the prime market, according to McNeil Nutritionals, the licensed marketer of Benecol products in the UK and Ireland as well as Belgium.

Raisio-owned Benecol’s existing market for its spreads, spoonable and drinkable yoghurts is dominated by over-55s, but Benecol/McNeil research indicates there is an increasing band of over-45s who are concerned about cholesterol control.

The fruit content is being marketed as delivering one of the five-a-day recommendations advised by health authorities in the UK.

McNeil plans to spend €2.33m backing the brand for the rest of 2009 with television playing a key role in driving awareness of the product, along with press campaigns and health professional awareness.

“We have a whole new campaign for this product,”​ McNeil marketing manager for Benecol in Europe, Esther N.M. van Onselen, told this morning. “We are reaching a new audience so we have to let them know about Benecol and the reasons why they should consume a smoothie on a daily basis.”

Of the premium price point, she said it was one the company “could command”. ​A launch in Belgium may follow with similar supermarket and convenience store distribution likely.

Raisio’s commercial director in the ingredients division, Mikko Laavainen, said that the smoothie was Benecol’s second, after a launch with a local partner in Indonesia last year. That product had a different formulation and texture to cater to local needs.

The cholesterol-lowering foods market in the UK is worth €142m according to IRI figures for the 52 weeks ending July 12, 2009. Benecol possesses just under half of the UK market, but has overtaken Unilever's pro.activ as the market leader.

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