How My Muscle Chef is building on its brand strengths

Latest brand campaign and ambassador efforts part of reshaped marketing strategy for direct-to-consumer company

Liam Loan-Lack
Liam Loan-Lack

What does it mean to be strong?

For Australian ready meals company, My Muscle Chef, ‘strength’ was originally defined in physical terms, with its products catering to nutrition seekers in the workout crowd. But as the company began looking to expand beyond its initial success as a direct-to-consumer food business, head of marketing, Liam Loan-Lack, and his team started questioning exactly what strength means in today’s context.

The result is a new brand campaign, ‘Strong like this’, supported by new creative content and a revamped ambassador program.

“We wanted to define strong as more being about a holistic health platform that covers mental and emotional strength, combined with physical strength,” Loan-Lack tells CMO. “’Strong’ means being mentally available for your kids after a long day at work or being mentally available when you are a doctor who is working back-to-back shifts.

“Those things we think are plausible and right for us because customers write into us currently and tell us how good our food is and how it helps them be the most brilliant humans, rather than just lifting 200kg on a deadlift at the gym.”

Loan-Lack joined My Muscle Chef six months ago following a career agency-side, most recently with Universal McCann. He says the company already knew that to grow, it needed to appeal to larger addressable audiences beyond the gym crowd. This had also led to the realisation there was an even bigger opportunity if My Muscle Chef could achieve recognition beyond ready meals and into the broader wellness category.

From a practical perspective, Loan-Lack was also keen to see My Muscle Chef’s marketing strategy mature beyond its reliance on Google and Facebook as acquisition channels.

“We needed to build a brand, and to build a brand you need a mass audience, which we have identified as those who want to feel good and not just look good physically,” Loan-Lack says.

Having started as a purely direct-to-consumer company, My Muscle Chef had the benefit of significant customer data which could be mined for insights, including the understanding that despite its initial proposition as a nutrition supply for enhancing workouts, 50 per cent of customers were using it for weight loss.

Working with agency partner, TBWA, Loan-Lack and the team also determined much of the messaging that exists in the ‘strength' category carried very similar tones.

“It is all so about pain and sacrifice, and doesn’t look very enjoyable,” Loan-Lack says. “And we want to challenge that and ask why can’t it be fun? Achieving your goals should be joyful, and that leads to our product truths – our food tastes great, and you can lose weight, and it’s good for you.”

The new My Muscle Chef campaign contains playful aspects, including the repeated visual element of people holding the company’s products while performing a double-front bicep pose.

“We want this to be enjoyable and we want this to be fun, and we felt there is really room for humour in what we are doing,” Loan-Lack says. “So that is how we started to navigate that very different change of tone and how we wanted to be distinctive in our comms to leverage the differentiation of our product.”

Ambassador support

On top of this, the company is revamping its ambassador program in support of the new positioning.

“We are getting really precise on the return on investment that we are getting incrementally on the ambassador program,” Loan-Lack says. “What that means is we are reducing the number of ambassadors and focusing on not just those who are really good at lifting in the gym but are real people who are time poor.”

Should the new strategy prove successful, it will also deliver a long-term goal for the company, which is to move from being a product-centric business to one that is proposition-centric.

“What we are trying to do is curate our products and services in a way which will allow consumers to essentially buy goal-achievement from us,” Loan-Lack says. “Right now, about 40 per cent of our customers buy us for an outcome or goal. We would love that to be more like 60 per cent of 70 per cent, because if they buy us for a goal or proposition, they see us as a support, not just a product.”

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