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Legacy sports nutrition brands navigate active lifestyle trends

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Lifestyle sports brands develop marketing models and strategies that seek to inspire, guide and motivate people.

Hardcore bodybuilders and elite athletes inspired the birth of the original sports nutrition category, which was anchored by a handful of “legacy” brands that met those heavy-duty needs early on. These days, fitness nutrition attracts people from all walks of life and a wide range of physical and mental performance parameters. This transformation—coupled with advances in mobile technology and social media marketing—has challenged many legacy brands to keep up with how active lifestyle consumers want to access information and buy products.

Joshua Schall, president of J. Schall Consulting, defined a “legacy brand” admittedly a bit differently than the conventional CPG community. “Since the sports nutrition industry is still relatively young, I use the year 2008 as the demarcation variable that determines if a brand is considered legacy,” he explained. “Facebook started to allow nonpersonal pages at that time, which severely lowered marketing/communication barriers of entry that could be coupled with e-commerce that lowered distribution barriers of entry.” Besides that initial qualifier, he added, a legacy brand can still be created today if a company utilizes legacy business mindsets that position customers as a passive commodity.

“A lifestyle brand recognizes the fact that for most of us, life seems dull,” Schall stated. “Although we generally enjoy our lives, we often aspire to achieve certain changes in ourselves. Because of that, lifestyle brands focus on wants over needs.”

Schall elaborated that lifestyle sports brands develop marketing models and strategies that seek to inspire, guide and motivate people, with the goal of their products contributing to the definition of the consumer’s way of life. If a consumer is emotionally connected, it allows the brand more latitude to expand outside of its original product and create a portfolio of associated lifestyle products.

An example of a successful brand in the space is GHOST Lifestyle, Schall noted. Its co-founder Daniel Lourenco asserted, “GHOST launched in 2016 and was absolutely the first to openly brand ourselves as a lifestyle brand, especially to the extent of including lifestyle as a suffix in all of our public-facing touch points (, @ghostlifestyle, etc.).”

Whether “lifestyle” is in the branding or marketing, Limelight Marketing suggested companies that tap into and influence consumers’ “emotions, aspirations and ideologies” fit the bill. Similarly, the American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a lifestyle brand as “a company that markets its products or services to embody the interests, attitudes and opinions of a group or a culture. Lifestyle brands seek to inspire, guide and motivate people, with the goal of their products contributing to the definition of the consumer’s way of life.”

According to Schall, many legacy sports nutrition brands have resisted making the necessary adjustments to accommodate consumer demand toward a broader active nutrition lifestyle. As such, he stated, “This will cause many of those same legacy sports nutrition brands to perish based on self-imposed dated beliefs of the industry.”

To read this article in its entirety—along with other coverage on the niche—check out the “Expanding demographics in sports nutrition” digital magazine.

Lisa Schofield is a veteran writer and editor who got her start interviewing rock stars for national music magazines. She now writes and edits content for B2B media and suppliers in the natural health product industry. She has served as editor for Vitamin Retailer and Nutrition Industry Executive, and prior to that as associate editor for Whole Foods.

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