In 2013, RXBAR called B.S. on protein bars. As written on their website: “We couldn’t believe there wasn’t a more nutritious protein bar out there. Maybe we were a little naive, but we decided to stop talking and try to make it ourselves.”
Five years later, they had become the fastest growing nutrition bar brand in the United States. Competitors wanted to be them. Consumers wanted to buy them—and corporations did, too (more on that later).
Like any great food company, RXBAR has a few secret ingredients. Here, we’ll share their recipe for success—serving up three lessons marketers can learn from the $600M startup.
Let’s dig in.
Less is more (even in the food industry)
While many protein bars use blink-and-you-miss-it sized fonts on their product packaging, RXBAR boldly features each ingredient front and center.
Research from Hershey shows that 68% of global consumers want to recognize every ingredient on a label—and 40% want food and beverages to have as few ingredients as possible.
Here, RXBAR cleverly checks both boxes. At first glance, customers already know: This brand has nothing to hide. No impossible-to-pronounce ingredients. No added sugars. No shame. Just real, good food.
“3 Egg Whites. 6 Almonds. 4 Cashews. 2 Dates. No B.S.” And one memorable message.
Stray from the status quo
Over the years, many people have tried to steer RXBAR away from innovative marketing moves (like using unconventional product packaging or the cheeky “No B.S.” motto).
The co-founders didn’t listen. Just look at this web copy:
The lesson for marketers? Disruption is a destination on the path less traveled—so follow your instincts and ignore the status quo. Don’t be “the next someone else.” Be the first you.
“For everyone” is for no one
From the start, RXBAR set their sights on an ultra-specific audience of CrossFit and paleo enthusiasts.
Was that a niche business strategy? Absolutely. But targeting a defined persona helped the brand operate with clarity and consistency. Let’s look at a hypothetical:
- Group One: Every human on the planet
- Group Two: CrossFit and paleo lovers
If asked to guess the probable habits, preferences, psychologies, motivators, and pain points for one of these groups, which would you choose?
The answer is obvious. While Group One is far too generic to be useful, Group Two offers a buffet of valuable consumer insights. CrossFit and paleo lovers likely share some key characteristics: health-conscious lifestyles, clean eating habits, an aversion to artificial ingredients, and a desire for food transparency. Suddenly, the marketing copy starts writing itself.
Sure enough, not being for everyone has proven to be quite the recipe for success. In 2017, Kellogg’s recognized RXBAR as a strategic platform for reaching a narrowly defined market. So, they bought the startup—for $600M.
A powerful exit, indeed.
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