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    Atkins Looking to Evolve Beyond Low-Carb

    Company eyeing new marketing, products, packaging.

    As low-carb sales continue to get slimmer, Atkins Nutritionals Inc. is looking to evolve its brand beyond the carb-conscious niche with a restructured product line, revamped packaging and an aggressive new marketing campaign, according to Progressive Grocer, a sister publication of Convenience Store News.

    "Our focus is on better food, better nutrition," said Beth Neumann, marketing director for the Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based company, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

    Atkins has always offered more than just low carbs, but company officials said that information might have gotten lost amid all the carb ballyhoo. Atkins products are also high in protein, contain no added sugar or sugar alcohols and boast a low glycemic index.

    To get that message of "superior nutrition" across to the public, Atkins is rolling out an aggressive new marketing campaign, including advertisements, a redesigned Web site, and revamped packaging, all of which will prominently feature these other attributes. The new packaging is due out on store shelves by January.

    The company also recently restructured its product line from 150 SKUs to 80, so it could concentrate on what it considers its core products -- among them nutrition bars and shakes, cereal and confectionery -- under the Advantage, Morning Start and Endulge brands. Neumann noted that the company was avidly exploring the potential of "real food" products, such as granola and trail mixes.

    An example of Atkins's new products is the Advantage caramel bar -- a first for the company -- in Cookie Dough and Fudge Brownie versions, although more are to come, promised Neumann. The bar is due to ship out next month.

    This new emphasis doesn't mean that Atkins is distancing itself from low-carb products, insisted Neumann, who called such items a "positive heritage -- people do [still] think about reducing carbs."

    She added, "I think our message cuts across demographics," emphasizing that a consumer with a strong interest in nutrition was most attractive to Atkins. "Consumers are becoming increasingly educated, and therefore aware, of the importance of good nutrition."

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