Huel lost the magic?

This is of course all my own opinion, just looking for others: I have been a huel customer for years, years back before the pandemic and I have introduced countless friends to it. Absolutely LOVED the brand. Was a die hard, even got some of their special merch when they celebrated birthdays etc. I loved their above the BS approach. I loved that they never jumped on the marketing buzzword hype, they were all about only nutrition but I feel they are just doing everything for money now. Of course they arent going to do this for free and it’s every intention to make money but I think, in my opinion, it’s now to a detriment of the brand. It’s all marketing buzz hype words now. And the fact they just released another US only product which isn’t too dissimilar to the greens product, is it just a money grabbing exercise? I am confused and sad about it if being honest. I loved old huel when they were NUTRITION, their no nonsense attitude, be better vibe, stand above the rest. Now I feel uneasy and that they are disingenuous. Where has the magic gone? Does anyone else feel this?

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They should get Paul Daniels as a non-exec director rather than that Stephen Bartlett fella. I’d like that, not a lot but I’d like it.

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They would have a job he’s been dead 8 years.

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I was originally going to say Tommy Cooper and changed it just like that at the last moment.

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Huel is a brand, not a religion. And surprisingly companies want to make profits - although no one would have expected that.

There were quality downgrades, that’s right, but without these prices would have increased dramatically. Huel is the only company that has made it to limit price increases.

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I hear you and It hurts that you feel we’ve lost the magic!

As you can imagine when creating a new product, a lot of thought has to go into the who what where when and why. Bridges need to be crossed whether that be logistical or ingredients, sometimes even more! We receive suggestions and feedback from all our Hueligans and this helps us with our new products.

Yes, we have US exclusives but we also have UK Exclusives. With Super Blend launching in the US, probably worth mentioning the UK still have The Daily A-Z vitamin drinks plus flavours of the instant noodle pots that the US does not have.

Again I’m sorry you feel the way you do but just know that every decision we make, we always make them with our Hueligans in mind. Worth just mentioning as for Superblend in the UK, we can never say never who knows what we could see!

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Good observation! However my opinion is that they’re doing a great job at taking the right amount of time within each phase of a business. Moving out of startup means being in a position where revenue is at a point where more resources can be deployed to research and new products, giving us the customers a better product and more options… just received my Matt black shaker, still feel special haha!

I feel the opposite. Here’s why from my experience:

  • 2018 - 2020: Regular consumer of RTD and granola, some H&S/Instant Meals, along with occasional bars (typically for last resort situations where other food is unavailable, hiking, etc). Amazing customer service throughout.
  • 2021 - 2022: Regular consumer of Huel powder and H&S/Instant Meals. A family member started Huel. Amazing customer service throughout.
  • 2023: Regular consumer of Huel powder, H&S/Instant Meals, Daily A-Z, and the new bars (which are LEAGUES better than the old ones, they’re unreal, like Mars and Milky Way had an ethical baby), along with occasional Instant Meal Pots. Several friends and family now using Huel. Improved website with order history. Loyalty scheme with different coloured shakers. And again, amazing customer service.

Now in 2024, already we have Daily Greens weeks away. Not including US releases or company accomplishments.

I think it’s very poor to say Huel now is just money grabbing, buzz hype, disingenuous, etc, especially when not only do you still have the products you love (besides granola), but they now have a wider variety of products and flavours, are better financially, are more globally accessible, have more of and faster R&D, some improved products (e.g. bars), more environmentally friendly, and still amazing service.

You love the powder? Cool, you still have it. For others who like noodles, now they have a healthier alternative. Same with chocolate bars, energy drinks… you get the point. I never understand the argument of being annoyed because a company now offers more products for other audiences, diversifying, growing and strengthening, while still offering the originals. Huel has always frequently marketed the product as consuming a convenient nutritious meal, such as swapping an unhealthy one with a healthier one. Nothing’s changed there.

If Huel staff are listening, the only negatives I can think of are:

  • All bags still not recyclable.
  • No organic version of Powder.
  • Room for improvement when it comes to communicating the “processed” food element. I know a couple people who loved Huel but left it because of the growing trend of moving away from processed foods, and I found the lack of any communication about this after Steven Bartlett’s recent podcast interviewing Chris Van Tulleken who was slating processed foods quite odd. I know there’s a great past article about it, but compare this article with the 2 hour podcast vilifying anything processed, thousands of comments on YouTube criticising this, socials, books, etc. Get James Collier on Diary of a CEO, or have Steven confront the questions with Chris, or release an article or video addressing either the podcast or processing in general, or something educational and snappy, just something frequent and engaging that directly addresses this topic. In fact, today someone gave me their remaining Huel and stopped it because they think it’s too processed, who is reading Chris’s book… It’s also still difficult to explain it particularly to older generations – the simplest I’ve seen is the RTD bottle image filled with the real ingredients inside, which helps visually interpret it instead of calling it a milkshake :joy: More studies would also help.
  • New Mac & Cheeze disappointing. Went from having it weekly to never again. The new version significantly lacks sauce, creaminess, cheesiness and flavour, and has way too much macaroni.
  • New discount system is too confusing, unclear, now more difficult and time-consuming to recommend to others. I often recommend Huel and have had people ask me how much [product] would cost them to have 1 per day per month, and now it seems impossible to see the cheapest price on the website without logging into my account, editing my subscription, adding those products to my subscription, saving it, clicking on my account, clicking Upcoming Deliveries, and then finally it shows me the price after the 10% off subscription and 10% off £85+ discounts. Would be far easier and more attractive to new customers to simply display this on the product sale page with how to get the 20% off. It was dead simple before, being able to increase quantity and see the discount immediately.
  • Huelwear could have been handled significantly better. The clothing brand’s marketing was far below par that I didn’t even realise the brand existed until the closing sale banner at the top months ago. Illogical to represent a clothing brand of beanies, jeans, jackets, joggers, caps, etc with only a small thumbnail image in the Products dropdown of a plain black t-shirt that looks identical to the free one being given away for years, with no mention of other clothing products, and no marketing of the clothing anywhere on the website or in delivery packages.
  • Inability to only subscribe to emails for new releases, announcements and offers, not the constant marketing emails, is still the sole reason I don’t subscribe to Huel’s newsletter.
  • (My fridge and I are still sad at there being no Huel Sauces/Condiments to replace all the garbage out there!)

Overall, the negatives are pretty minor and do not impact the reason I started using Huel. Instead, I use and enjoy Huel more than ever, and their customer service is the best of any company I’ve ever interacted with. Room to improve absolutely, but getting better and better.

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Hex, I appreciate you reaching out to us and passing on your feedback!

In regards to anything regarding new products or changes to products. We listen to our Hueligans regarding new products and changes to our products. In regards to your comments regarding the Mac & Cheeze, I’m sorry you were not a fan! Would you be able to drop us an email to team@huel.com so we can look into what went wrong on this occasion? As for organic, we never say never at Huel so this could be something we see in the future.

Our new discount system allows customers more flexibility and the freedom to choose from a wider range of our products without being limited to the same range each time. Of course, we don’t want things to be confusing so if you have any questions we’d be happy to help with this right away.

Regarding Huelwear and The inability to subscribe, this is feedback I’ll pass on for sure. Like I said right at the top this is so helpful. It helps sometimes to have someone point out what’s gone wrong and where you’d like to see us improve from outside the Huel walls :heart:

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I apologise, seems it deleted my point regarding communication.

Completely get where you’re coming from here. The one thing we pride ourselves on is communication with all of you. This is why we actively have members of our nutrition team in the forum to be able to answer any questions you have.

Can I ask if would you want to see more educational content sort of thing? We often have really interesting articles that are emailed out weekly, understand that you’re not signed up to our emails right now but maybe something to consider in the future?

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Next week apparently.

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I agree. I’ve set out the reasons I think this on other threads so I won’t bore this tiny echo chamber.
Summary - I believe new products are growth and profit driven not nutrition driven.

Hey @Mark_Huel, thanks for the quick reply and tackling each point :slight_smile:

Mac & Cheeze:

  • Thank you. I’ve previously raised it here and via email with more clarity. I now have the Carbonara primarily which I find more enjoyable than M&C. Essentially, more sauce and less macaroni in a third version of M&C would be perfect.

Discount system:

  • I’m not knocking the discount system itself, only how it’s presented as it can turn off new potential customers and makes it so much more complicated and time-consuming for people who love Huel to recommend it to others. Before, it was dead simple, changing the quantity to see the lowest price and work out monthly costs. Now, I have to spend a couple minutes faffing around with logging in, editing my own subscription, jumping to Upcoming Deliveries, etc that I explained in my previous post, all simply to calculate the monthly costs, e.g. how much it costs to have 1 RTD every day for a month, or A-Z, etc.
  • Before, it also clearly showed how purchasing more saves you money on the product page, dead simple. Now it’s impossible for new/existing customers to know this, or what the actual true cheapest monthly cost is, unless they happen to catch the small text in the banner at the top while it’s flipping between different messages, or the bullet point next to the green tick on only some of the product pages. Even then, they have to either calculate it themselves manually, or go through the entire checkout process, or have an existing subscription and mess around with it for a couple minutes.
  • Solution: Show a comparison for each product between one-off, subscription, and subscription with £85+. This would give new and existing customers knowledge of and clear incentive to maintain a regular monthly subscription.

Communication:

  • Huel’s communication is by far the best I’ve ever seen in a company. I’m only referring to the growing trend in vilifying processed foods, and Steven Bartlett’s recent podcast. Just seems extremely odd for a podcast sponsored by Huel, an ultra-processed food, ran by Steven who’s quickly becoming the face of Huel, to have a podcast released that drives people away from Huel, then not challenge it, or get in front of it, or educate about this topic more, etc. Steven interviewed a guy heavily slating processed/ultra-processed foods in-depth for an hour and a half, without discussing Huel at all, challenging the vilification of processed foods/UPFs, or showing the good and bad. The podcast was great and it’s excellent that we’re critiquing UPFs, but the conflict with Huel was clear.
  • The YouTube video has 2600 comments, many criticising Huel and/or Steven for this, some thinking Steven is going to drop Huel or that Huel is now considered junk food/bad. A friend of mine who loves Steven showed me streams of comments on Facebook and Instagram about the backlash, thought it was really strange, and avoids Huel now. If you hover over the seek bar, it shows the most replayed part is when Steven cut to a quick promotion of Huel. A family member recently took out a Huel subscription, saw this podcast, bought Chris’s book, then cancelled Huel.
  • Steven is influential and I think this situation could have been handled a lot better. Besides the podcast, search “Huel” on YouTube and see many other popular videos slating it. Ultimately, Huel has excellent marketing and does touch on the UPF element sometimes, but I feel there is significant need to communicate the UPF element more clearly and transparently to help educate people more, particularly in succinct, digestible, widely available ways (e.g. not Substack or a newsletter).
  • Solution: Get James Collier, Julian Hearn, or someone similar on Diary of a CEO to discuss this fairly, accurately and in-depth – I would personally love to see this! Do a follow-up with Chris about it. Release more content on YouTube, socials, ads or the website about ultra-processed foods. Have people from Huel on other podcasts talking about it in-depth rather than just promoting it. Release more studies about people using Huel partially or 100%. Talk about specific nutrients or processing methods that position Huel far better than the majority of the food industry. Something along these lines that address both the fair critique and vilification of ultra-processed foods, and mindset of Huel being junk food, so people are more educated and aware. Articles in a newsletter can be good, but this is locked away to people only subscribed and actively reading Huel’s emails. Over a million people watched the podcast, more across other platforms, with many thousands of people commenting across all platforms – those are the people that need to be reached.

Appreciate you feeding back! Of course let me know if I can clarify anything :slight_smile:

I seen him on some other products advert too, money grabbing twat :slight_smile:

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Don’t speak ill of the dead :joy:

Its Bartlett i was on about, there was some other advert insaw him on, obviously praises what he is paid to praise, its like when you see absolutely stunning women taking a bite of a mcdonalds burgwr, you know they have spat that out when the camera is off lol

Hi @Hex

Thanks for your constructive response.

Room for improvement when it comes to communicating the “processed” food element. I know a couple people who loved Huel but left it because of the growing trend of moving away from processed foods, and I found the lack of any communication about this after Steven Bartlett’s recent podcast interviewing Chris Van Tulleken who was slating processed foods quite odd. I know there’s a great past article about it, but compare this article with the 2 hour podcast vilifying anything processed, thousands of comments on YouTube criticising this, socials, books, etc. Get James Collier on Diary of a CEO, or have Steven confront the questions with Chris, or release an article or video addressing either the podcast or processing in general, or something educational and snappy, just something frequent and engaging that directly addresses this topic. In fact, today someone gave me their remaining Huel and stopped it because they think it’s too processed, who is reading Chris’s book… It’s also still difficult to explain it particularly to older generations – the simplest I’ve seen is the RTD bottle image filled with the real ingredients inside, which helps visually interpret it instead of calling it a milkshake :joy: More studies would also help.

I hear you. The ‘all-processed-food-is-bad’ mindset is frustrating and I’ve been quite vocal about it. For example, on my Substack, in particular this article. But, I agree, Huel needs to be more on the front foot on this issue: we’re working on a strategy. Indeed, this mindset has been criticised by a large number of nutrition academics.

Chris van Tulleken is an interesting one as I think his book is excellent: I just disagree with him on the terminology. Junk food is a better term. I would love the opportunity to debate him publicly. There’s a plan for more podcast appearances in 2024 by me and other Huel nutritionists, so we’ll keep you posted.

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After experimenting a bit with the discount system the differences don’t seem that big - considering the costs of other aspects of every day life. Some people mindlessly buy a to-go-drink for 5 Euros and complain about a 3 Euro more expensive pack of 17 meals. Have junk food without thinking about it, but catastrophize small changes in the formula of a meal replacement powder - too much sodium and potassium, to little whatever. In some sense that is not really fair.

Huel is to a large part about convenience, and the most important part about convenience is not to care about relatively unimportant necessities of life.

It you don’t like the “new” instant meals: According to reddit adding nutritional yeast increases creaminess and also taste without adding a relevant amount of calories. I’ve never tried one of these instant meals, but recommended this to a friend and he was very happy with this advice. It seems that is has solved the issue for him.

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Thank you @JamesCollier! I enjoyed digging through a few of your Substack articles and will be reading in future :slight_smile: Would absolutely love to see that public debate! Either way, really glad to hear about a strategy being worked on and upcoming podcast appearances. (Diary of a CEO especially would be a no brainer considering Bartlett’s involvement with Huel and the huge exposure it would have.)

In addition to raising awareness and educating people more about that mindset, such easily digestible (excuse the pun) resources would also help Hueligans articulate the subject better when recommending and discussing the products with others too. Look forward to what’s planned and appreciate you coming back to me.