Your Business In Focus


Medifast/OPTAVIA is a great example of how to clarify your message, focus on what sets you apart and shine the spotlight on your product hero.

You can’t have too much of a good thing is a lie that leaders often fall for. It’s the ideology that if one bestselling product is good, three would be great; that for growth to happen, everyone within the company must be working on multiple projects with different goals in order to stay on top. Many leaders have been conditioned to believe that if you’re not always leading the way, then you’re falling behind. And that’s true—to a point. No brand or company can be the leader in every category, and those that try often turn around to discover that no one is following.

Focus Amid FOMO

Much of this disjointed approach to leadership—this tendency to take on too much—can be attributed to FOMO, or the fear of missing out. When leaders see their competitors promoting new products or heralding their trailblazing technology, it can be tempting to chase down those same initiatives—and a few extra for good measure—to stay relevant. It’s a justified concern since missing out in business can be devastating for profit margins and reputations. Still, those fears, although rational and real, can’t all be attacked successfully at once. In fact, doing so could have the opposite effect for the bottom line, sending revenues tumbling as distracted customers lose sight of what truly makes their favorite brand shine.

But FOMO has an antidote: focus.

Simplify, Support and Strengthen

Successful companies are typically identified by a product or service that differentiates them from the rest of the market. Starbucks, for example, offers an intentionally simplistic menu in order to shine a spotlight on coffee, the flagship product that has built brand loyalty and consistent customer traffic.

This isn’t to say that Starbucks doesn’t offer other products, but those other offerings aren’t the main event. Everything else in the store, from the biscotti to the travel mugs, serve to support the Starbucks product hero.

But even heroes can begin to grow stale in a marketing landscape that prioritizes the new and novel. When this happens, many leaders pitch their reliable seller and send their departments scrambling to create and innovate from scratch, when the most effective option might be to simply strengthen the original product or service. Sometimes all that’s required is to bring the same original product to customers in a fresh way.

“FOMO has an antidote: focus.”

Old Spice accomplished this and shed its reputation as “your grandfather’s deodorant” with its viral rebranding campaign that depicted former NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa on a horse who urged consumers to “Smell like a man, man.” Without changing the brand’s logo or altering its focus on men’s body care products, the company reintroduced itself to consumers, generated tens of millions of YouTube views and grew their 3,000 Twitter followers to almost 50,000 in 72 hours.

Change isn’t always profitable or wise, but updating the original product that customers have come to know and love can combine the buzz of a new product with the predictability of a bestseller.

Reinvent, Rebrand And Refocus

Founded in 1981, Medifast has learned the art of reinventing itself while staying true to its original focus. The company has long been best-known for its pre-packaged healthy meals, snacks and shakes, and in 2002 broadened its influence through its direct selling channel, Take Shape For Life. By 2015, this offshoot of Medifast had attracted 12,000 active health coaches who operated as distributors for the Medifast product and message.

“Companies seeking to reinvent themselves or their flagship product could look to Medifast/OPTAVIA’s example for a copy-cat worthy rebranding campaign. The major takeaway? Stay focused.”

In 2016, Medifast announced it would be refocusing its efforts to strengthen and support its direct selling channel’s success. Rebranding Take Shape For Life as OPTAVIA, Medifast leaned hard on what set it apart from the competition—its trained coaches—and focused its energies there, integrating its coaching model into all channels of distribution.

The value of this focus became evident over the next two years, as the company’s revenue and distributor growth reflected the increased support and promotion of the OPTAVIA brand. Fourth quarter revenues the following year increased 32.4 percent to $68.6 million, up almost $17 million from the previous year’s fourth quarter earnings. In 2018, the company’s revenue reached $501 million and earned parent company Medifast a spot on the DSN Global 100, in no small part to OPTAVIA-branded products, which, in the first quarter of 2019, represented 73 percent of the company’s goods sold. That shift toward rapid growth appears to be continuing, with 2019 third quarter revenue reaching $190.1 million—a 36.5 percent increase from the same quarter of the previous year. Simultaneously, the number of active earning OPTAVIA coaches during that same quarter increased 42.5 percent, totaling 32,200. If the company continues this pattern of sustainable growth, spurred by its OPTAVIA-led reinvention, Medifast revenues are expected to break the $1 billion mark by 2021.

The Customer’s Always First

As the OPTAVIA evolution began, a new CEO and board member, Dan Chard, was brought in who understood the turning point that this rebranding represented for the company. “Bringing it all together—the clinical, medical credibility (of our Medifast history) with the lifestyle of OPTAVIA brings together the credibility of the past and a vision for the future, which inspired our integrated coach model,” Chard told Direct Selling News in 2018. “We continue to work with doctors, (but today) we offer the ability for those doctors to become either coaches themselves or have somebody in their office become a coach to fulfill that mission.”

“By focusing intently on the customer’s unique and customized needs, and utilizing health assessments, OPTAVIA coaches can deliver quality and value to their customers that impersonal competitors can’t compete with.”

Coaches are the company’s key differentiator, and with them leading the way, Medifast has been able to supercharge the interpersonal nature of the direct selling structure, creating a heightened customer acquisition focus. OPTAVIA coaches are trained by Medifast and given a mission to help customers explore their habits, define their own goals and discover the underlying behaviors that might be holding them back. By focusing intently on the customer’s unique and customized needs, and utilizing health assessments, OPTAVIA coaches can deliver quality and value to their customers that impersonal competitors can’t compete with.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Almost four decades of tracking revenue and testing their system have provided Medifast with tangible evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Through those real-life experiments, it became obvious to the company’s leaders that customers—or clients, as they’re known in OPTAVIA—experience greater success and deliver more repeat business when they take the products while linked with a coach. By tracking those metrics, the Medifast leadership was able to laser-focus their rebranding efforts and strategically position their resources to support what the numbers had already proven would deliver the greatest return. With this unified focus, the field was charged with a mission that was undiluted by confusion or overly ambitious multitasking, so that even when tasked with different objectives, the overall emphasis remained the same across departments and downlines.

Companies seeking to reinvent themselves or their flagship product could look to Medifast/OPTAVIA’s example for a copy-cat worthy rebranding campaign. The major takeaway? Stay focused. Focus on what differentiates you from the market and then throw your resources, supporting products and attention behind shining the spotlight on the one thing that your competitors envy: your product hero.

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