While the market for sugary sodas has contracted in recent years, the US market for sports drinks and other beverages has actually expanded. But no sports drink has won the dominance of the market like Gatorade has for decades. The University of Florida-developed, PepsiCo-owned sports drink hasn’t had many challengers in this space, even as their sales have suffered from a decline in the past couple years and a fumbled rollout of an organic product in 2016.

However, a new, growing sports drink brand, BODYARMOR, might be changing this. The company got a lot of investment from former professional basketball player Kobe Bryant a few years ago and had their first national TV campaign launched last year.

In more good news from the brand, Coca-Cola announced in August that they are also investing in the BODYARMOR brand and are becoming the second-largest shareholder in the company. The move is an obvious play by Coca-Cola to take some of the sports drink market from PepsiCo’s Gatorade, even though they already have a sports drink of their own already on the market, Powerade. It is also an example of big players in the food and beverage industry taking notice of smaller companies who are exhibiting the trend of “Lighter Enjoyment,” one of the top food trends for 2018.

While Gatorade has been slow to really answer the trends being set by consumers, smaller companies have taken notice and are releasing products that directly address consumer wants and needs. While Gatorade has taken forever to release their first sugar free drink in history (an answer to losing sales partly due to consumers wanting healthier options) BODYARMOR has been offering natural sports drinks from the start.

Their original namesake product advertises natural sweeteners and flavors and utilizing trendy coconut water along with the usual electrolytes and vitamins present in beverages for athletes. BODYARMOR even has a “lyte” option that is only 20 calories a serving but also keeps the natural flavors and sweeteners that athletes and amateur gym goers alike crave.

 

 

With the investment from Coca-Cola, BODYARMOR can take advantage of Coca-Cola bottling facilities as well as the huge market reach that a company like Coca-Cola has. For a company that hasn’t been out too long and is just now putting out their first national TV campaign, this is huge news. Not only because it means an expansion in their product, but it also means that the big guys are watching the smaller players and what exciting things are coming out of small businesses.

Food marketers and manufacturers looking to get into the sports drink space should look to these trends of natural and organic drinks that are low in sugar and other additives. Americans at large are turning away from these kinds of products and are instead buying up waters and other bottled drinks. Sports drinks, like juices and other beverages, can get a bad rap for being overly sugary and not much better than carbonated soft drinks. So any way that makes a new product more natural or organic should be clearly labeled on the packaging so consumers are able to differentiate.

While BODYARMOR has a long way to go to overtake Gatorade, the task doesn’t seem so huge with the investment of Coca-Cola, one of the largest companies in the world with a huge international reach as well as staying true to their original brand and the need they are trying to fill.

 

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