by Matt Weik
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and I stumbled on a post by Bill Phillips that caught my eye. It had a big picture of an old EAS Phosphagen creatine bottle and the caption, “Coming back this summer: the Original EAS performance nutrition supplements. EAS 2.0 – still building better bodies through SCIENCE.”
To say I was shocked seeing this was an understatement. I went over to his page to find another post saying that EAS will be back this summer and was showing an image of the Myoplex meal replacement box. I sent out a message to Bill directly to see if I could get some insight into this story but at the time of writing this, I have not heard back from him. I mean, after all, who am I? LOL. In all seriousness, from what I can see on my end, he never even saw my message yet.
Can Bill Phillips Make EAS Work… Again?
After reading through 200 comments on the posts, it’s clear that people are excited to see what Bill Phillips can do with EAS once he is behind the steering wheel. Honestly, I’m pumped about this. Call me old school, but back in the day when I started working out and taking supplements, the big players were MET-Rx, Labrada, and EAS. And back then is when everything had the flavor profile of chalk and cardboard. Obviously, flavor systems have changed and things improved but EAS was one of the biggest supplement companies in the world.
In the comment section, Bill Phillips mentioned that he’s bringing back the EAS supplements but not a full list from what I saw. He mentioned Myoplex and Myoplex Lite will be coming back. He mentioned he’s bringing back the bars as well as the creatine. Other than that, I’ll be interested to see what else he launches and in what timeframe. I did see he has another launch of a product scheduled for September and that the first launch will be sometime in summer 2020.
For those who don’t know all of the details and backstory, in July 2018 the brand made the announcement that they would be discontinuing the entire EAS line and essentially going away for good. I don’t think many people were all that shocked as EAS lost a lot of real estate in supplement stores and their overall sales and brand loyalty were nothing compared to what it was back in the day.
Taking you back… way back… Bill Phillips was the owner and CEO of EAS. In 1996 he cashed out and sold EAS for only $160 million. I say “only” because in today’s crazy acquisition heavy industry that’s next to nothing compared to the deals being thrown around. Heck, Quest Nutrition was sold for $1B. Now, I’m not saying it was a bad deal for Bill Phillips, after all, I don’t know anyone who would balk at a fat $160 million payday.
So, can Bill come back and make it work? Honestly, if anyone knew how to make the EAS brand work, it was Bill Phillips. I think with his creativity, name, and passion, he could bring EAS back and make it successful again. Will it be as big as it was back in the 90s? I don’t think so but only time will tell.
Is It Too Little Too Late for EAS?
If you talk to anyone in the specialty channel like the supplement stores and retailers, many of them have refused to bring in any EAS products after they left them high and dry and got in bed with big-box retailers, mass market, and wholesalers. You could find EAS products at Walmart, Sam’s Club, and many other locations at a fraction of the price that gyms and supplement stores were selling it for. In essence, EAS turned its back on what made them so big in the first place and supplement retailers never forgot that.
How will Bill Phillips please everyone again? Or maybe he’s not looking to? But you can’t go crawling back to specialty retailers pleading to be given a second chance while still selling the products in places like Walmart and Sam’s Club who are basically selling it at a price point close to where the specialty retailers would be buying it at. At that point, what’s the real benefit of bringing the brand back in?
Not to mention, retailers aren’t going to welcome EAS back with open arms (in my opinion) – even with Bill Phillips leading the brand again. What Abbott did with EAS, in my mind, destroyed the brand. There’s no other way that I feel I can convey that message. EAS got greedy, killed the business that put them on the map, and then disappeared without any retailers even caring that the brand was discontinued.
The toughest thing is, consumers are trained to look for EAS in wholesale locations and mass market. Will they go into a supplement store, go out of their way, just to purchase EAS? I don’t think so. Not only that, but no one is asking for the brand. EAS was bleeding to death over the years which is why they ultimately went out of business. I feel like it’s going to take a lot of work to bring it back but I’m sure Bill is up for the challenge.
I feel as if EAS is going to run into the same issue that MET-Rx has been facing over the years and that’s relevancy. No one is asking for either brand anymore. With so many new and innovative brands out there using patented ingredients with a bunch of hype, brands like MET-Rx and EAS who are more basic and conservative to today’s standards will never really gain much market share. They’re “your dad’s supplement brands.” I’ve heard that all the time when I worked for MET-Rx. That and, “I didn’t know you guys were still in business.” Yeah, good times in the field (no, not really).
The bar market has changed. The meal replacement market has changed. The RTD protein shake market has changed. Creatine has changed. It’s evolve or die and I’m not completely sure EAS will ever get back to where they were as a brand. That’s not to say they can’t still do fairly well in the industry. I just don’t see them ever being the leader and force in the industry like they once were.
I wish Bill Phillips all the best as he has a rough road ahead of him. I’d love to get my hands on any products they put out to see how they compare to the old products as well as what’s on the market today. I’m also curious if new products are in the works and where Bill is planning on selling his reacquired EAS brand.