Next month, PepsiCo will launch a new sports drink, Gatorade Juiced, aimed at youth athletes and earmarked for the juice aisle. In an exclusive interview, Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien said the brand is looking to expand its base by creating a sports drink for pre-high school consumers that includes an ingredient profile attractive to their adult caretakers. “It’s bringing younger athletes into the portfolio with a product that their moms, dads and coaches feel great about,” O’Brien said. “We’re not asking them to step up into base Gatorade at an early age. We’re now creating this product specifically for this generation of athletes.” The launch comes as a critical time for the Gatorade brand, which lost both dollar and volume share last year at retail, according to data tracked by BD. Consumers are increasingly avoiding sugar, which creates friction for a sports drink brand built on the functionality of sugar carbohydrates. While PepsiCo trademarked the name Gatorade Juiced in October, the company hasn’t shared details of the product, launch and retail positioning until now.
Details. Gatorade Juiced will reach shelves nationally in early March in three flavors: Mixed Berry, Apple Raspberry and Citrus Berry Punch. The non-carbonated sports drink with stevia will contain about 25% fruit juice and be marketed as all-natural, with no artificial colors, sweeteners or flavors. The juice will come from apple, grapes and other fruits. A 12-oz bottle will include, 9g of carbohydrates, 7g of sugar and 40 calories, which is similar to the levels contained in Gatorade’s lower-calorie G2 variant (regular Gatorade contains 22g of carbs, 21g of sugar and 80 calories). Gatorade Juiced will include the same 160mg of sodium and 50mg of potassium electrolytes found in regular Gatorade. “All of the carbohydrates come from juice. There is no added sugar,” O’Brien said. “It’s all about a very clean product that provides the electrolytes and the carbohydrates you need as a young athlete getting started in the sports world.” Gatorade Juiced is formulated for “tween-aged kids running up and down a soccer field in 90-degree heat” who are “just getting into sports in a more aggressive way,” O’Brien said. “It’s an intro to Gatorade without being full-blown Gatorade.” O’Brien said there is a misnomer that younger athletes don’t need carbohydrates or electrolytes. “They do. Their little bodies are still heating up and they are still sweating like crazy out there,” he said. “But they may not need the full carb load of a Gatorade.”
Packaging. To start, the drink will be available only in six-packs of 12-oz PET bottles at a suggested retail price of about $4.79. The drink will be sold primarily in large format groceries. Single-serve immediate consumption packages will not be offered, O’Brien said.
Shelf Placement. O’Brien said Gatorade is targeting the juice aisle, where parents of school-aged children often shop for “celebratory post-game juice boxes” and grab juice products for various occasions. “Being there and representing something differentiated within the juice aisle is really appealing to us,” he said. However, the drink could appear on the sports drink aisle and other store locations as well. “We love the idea that we’ll play in multiple store parts,” he said. For comparison, Bodyarmor contains about 10% coconut water. Gatorade’s Bolt24, which contains watermelon concentrate, does not include fruit juice.
Data. Last year, the Gatorade trademark at US retail declined -0.7% as dollars rose +2.3% on higher pricing, according to BD tracking (see The Green Sheet). Gatorade Zero, launched in mid-2018 to better compete for sugar-avoiding consumers, reached a 9.0 volume share of the US sports drink market at the end of 2019 after adding +7.6 share points. That volume gain came as base Gatorade and the lower-calorie G2 shed -8.5 volume share points. Like trademark Gatorade, Coke’s Powerade trademark also lost volume and dollar share, even as Powerade Zero grew sales by both measures. Bodyarmor, which has challenged Gatorade directly in advertising as being an “outdated” sports drink, more than doubled its volume and dollar share of sports drinks last year.
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