Inc. Magazine recently named Rxbar a winner of its 2017 Design Award, meant to honor entrepreneurs who invoke great design to build their brands. Rxbar got the nod for package design, which, as it turns out, is a big shift for a company that had been getting lost in the sea of competitive protein bars.
Inc. described the problem this way: “Peruse a rack of protein bars at any grocery story, and they all blend together: promises of protein and some stamp of approval by the latest fad diet…”
This was the problem the founders faced when, 18 months back, the company decided to do something to stand out. Instead of trying to create a new fad, the founders authorized a packaging overhaul Inc. called “radical.” It was also very successful. Soon Rxbar was being invited to grace the shelves of upscale grocers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The founders of the company said this rebrand was the first time they were actually intentional about the look and feel of their packaging. They told Inc. they were “broke, young, and naïve,” at the time, so they just did their best, without really thinking about the consumer behaviors or preferences of their target market.
Now, though, the company leaders have taken the time to do the work, studying how consumers would respond to various package looks. The results speak for themselves. But what did they change, really?
Strategy one change was to let the product be its own spokesman. Put the healthy, hearty ingredients center stage. Pull out all the “extra” verbiage on the packaging and just give the customer what they were looking for. That decision turned out to be the winner. Customers, and, most importantly for Rxbar, retailers, responded positively to the rebranding, increasing the company’s market reach and sales potential.
Another aspect of the rebrand: put the flavors front and center. Don’t just say “blueberry” on the package. Show a cluster of blueberries. Communicate freshness and wholesome goodness, both qualities customers in their target market expect in their food.
But along with all the strong decisions the company made, the key PR piece is found in what Rahal, one of the founders, told Inc. about why they made the switch:
“In the protein bar space, the design architecture of packaging is so common: logo, appetite appeal, claim, flavor… The product had been engineered for our early adopters, and those claims were in our DNA. But those claims aren’t why people buy a product anymore. It’s trying too hard.”
Trying too hard to do something customers don’t even want. How many brands suffer because of that sort of math. Rxbar’s founders decided to switch that around: find out what the customer is looking for and deliver exactly – and only – that. It seems simple, but sometimes something can be so simple it’s easy to miss.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States.