P-Fit, the latest venture from the creator of Myprotein and GoNutrition, went live last month, promising to “unravel the maze of protein by giving each consumer exactly what they need”.
Instead of expecting the customer to know what kind of protein they are looking for, P-Fit uses an algorithm to calculate a solution based on their goals and personal details.
The first-of-its-kind tailored protein subscription service taps into the personalisation trend, which, according to New Nutrition Business director Julian Mellentin, has moved up a gear in recent months.
“Personalisation is already being practiced by consumers as individuals in their everyday food choices and it's now evolving to a more technology-based level.
"Tech-based personalisation is beyond the tipping point, as can be seen from Campbell Soups’ decision to invest $32 million [€29.88m] in a start-up focused on personalised nutrition, called Habit, which will use DNA testing, coaching and food delivery,” he said.
He said the difference between the two is that Habit has a broader focus than protein-specific P-Fit.
“That means that P-Fit's appeal will be to regular gym goers who are knowledgeable about protein and focused on improving their performance. This is a big niche of the population.
"It’s definitely not mainstream as is frequently claimed by companies, but it's a sizeable niche of people who skew younger and/or have high knowledge and interest in nutrition and are willing to pay, so it's a low volume, high value business,” he said.
His prediction was that P-Fit was “likely to do well” as an expert service to this group.
“It's a good way for a company to differentiate itself in a market that is crammed with identical products. P-Fit seems to be focusing on a ‘feel the benefit’ message, which is a smart move as that's the most compelling reason to purchase in health, especially for the group it is targeting.”
However, he pointed out that P-Fit is an easy idea to copy, and said he expected to see many more services like this emerging.
Branching out beyond dairy protein
He also suggested that P-Fit would eventually have to evolve to offer vegetable proteins to cater for “the growing number of younger people who are concerned about digestive disorders and inflammation”.
On this last point, P-Fit is already one step ahead. In an interview shortly after launch, P-Fit founder Oliver Cookson told us his company was working on a vegan protein offer.
Karla Rendle, research analyst at Euromonitor International, shares Mellentin’s optimism for the venture in the short term, particularly in the light of Cookson’s previous successes.
“I think initially, if marketed in the right way and positioned at an affordable competitive price - both of which Oliver Cookson has a track record of doing with Myprotein - then P-Fit is likely to experience success.
"This is a service that offers a high level of convenience for its core consumers with the added benefit of a tailor made nutrition regime and so is well positioned to capture an eager, growing market with a young consumer base,” she told NutraIngredients.
Sports nutrition: A new application for the subscription model
She said it was interesting to see the subscription model - which has already achieved success in other industries such as food, alcohol, beauty, clothing and pet food - introduced to the sports nutrition industry.
“A subscription service for sports nutrition protein seems poised as a particularly good fit as we see an increasing consumer preference for shopping online for protein.
"The added personalisation element will help to attract consumers who are keen to achieve specific results but need a guiding hand in selecting as we see a much wider mainstream consumer base for sports nutrition going forward,” she said.
Taking a long term view, she said “it will be interesting to see if consumers’ current penchant for subscription services continues to experience the same level of popularity - especially as these models have previously shown that it can be hard to retain consumers for a period of time past the initial burst of interest and novelty”.
Rendle will speak at a new NutraIngredients and European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) congress held in Frankfurt on November 28 the day before Health Ingredients Europe.
More information here.