PepsiCo plans to launch an "all-natural" answer to Bodyarmor called Bolt24 in July, according to multiple sources. The beverage will be referred to as "off the field hydration."
Bolt24 will debut in select markets, channels and outlets across the US in limited production and distribution, according to sources. Consumer, customer and competitive learning from the focused distribution will be incorporated as the brand adds innovation and points of sale.
The drink's name was first identified today by Nik Modi, a beverage analyst from RBC Capital Markets. In a report, Modi described Bolt24 as having "natural flavors/sweetness," containing "less sugar than core Gatorade," and using Watermelon, and sea salt for sodium." BD has confirmed those details and learned additionally that the product will contain cane sugar and watermelon juice for carbohydrate sugar sources and stevia as a sweetener.
“Athletes are the core of our business and we’re constantly innovating to meet their needs both on and off the field,” PepsiCo responded in a statement sent to BD. “Stay tuned to see what that means in summer 2019.”
BD has located a “Bolt24” trademark filed Jan. 24 by PepsiCo subsidiary Stokely-Van Camp, Gatorade’s legal entity. The drink is listed as a non-carbonated, non-alcoholic fruit flavored beverage.
Separately, BD notes that the introduction of Bolt24 may prompt some independent bottlers to insist on having rights to the product in large format retail stores, in addition to small format. Independent bottlers generally have Gatorade distribution rights only in small format outlets such as convenience stores.
The introduction would be a critical development in the evolution of the sports drink category. PepsiCo’s leading 70-plus share of the US sports drink market has been pressured by Bodyarmor, now distributed by the Coca-Cola bottling system. PepsiCo has shown a willingness in recent years to launch new brands in on-trend categories such as premium bottled water (Lifewtr) and sparkling water (Bubly), where they were falling behind. Unsurprisingly, PepsiCo appears ready with Bolt24 to defend its turf aggressively when it comes to sports drinks, which are an essential part of the company’s total revenue mix.
While arguably overdue, Gatorade launched a zero-sugar version last year. Before that came an organic version. With the emergence of Bodyarmor, PepsiCo may be right to create a brand outside the Gatorade trademark (if that is indeed the strategy here), to give consumers something closer to the modern sports drink they are increasingly demanding.
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