G Series Sports Drink

With platforms geared toward athletic enthusiasts, sports drinks experienced a resurgence in sales. The total category increased 14.9 percent to more than $3.9 billion in sales, according to SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, for the 52 weeks ending May 15 in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores, gas and convenience stores and mass merchandise outlets, excluding Wal-Mart.

Non-aseptic bottled sports drinks made up most of the category with more than $3.8 billion in sales and a 14.6 percent increase, SymphonyIRI states. This segment reflected the rebranding efforts by category leader PepsiCo’s Gatorade brand, which in 2010 released its G Series and G Series Pro product lines. G Series Perform 02, which is the rebranded Gatorade Thirst Quencher, and Recover 03, a new protein-enhanced post-workout beverage, reported $1.9 billion and $33.2 million in sales, respectively.

Also a part of the G Series lineup, Prime 01 is classified as an aseptic packaged product and accounted for more than $23.7 million in sales — occupying 92 percent of the $25.7 million aseptic segment, according to SymphonyIRI data.

Gatorade’s G2 Series, a low-calorie variety, also continued to grow its market share and sales. G2 Perform posted a 570.9 percent increase for $383.6 million in sales, according to SymphonyIRI data.

Focusing on expanding its reach to consumers’ needs, Gatorade this year released G Series Fit, which offers low-calorie drinks and fruit juice-based protein drinks. Also designed in a tiered format, Perform 02 G Series Fit products contain 20 calories in each bottle, while Recover 03 smoothie packages contain 120 calories. The company also continued to distribute its G Natural and G2 Natural brands in select Whole Foods Market stores throughout the United States.

The three-tiered format of Gatorade’s product lines reflects what analysts see as an opportunity to create more drink occasions for sports drinks besides the hydration aspect during sports and athletic activities.

The other top-selling bottled sports drink, The Coca-Cola Co.’s Powerade Ion4 brand, continued to showcase growth as its sales and market share increased 22.1 percent compared to last year with more than $655.7 million in sales, SymphonyIRI data states. No-calorie Powerade Zero also posted positive sales figures with a 58.6 percent sales increase for $188.2 million in sales, the market research firm data shows.

Sales of sports drink mixes remained relatively flat accounting for $63.5 million for the 52 weeks ending May 15, according to SymphonyIRI. Gatorade’s Propel brand maintained its top position in market share, but reported a decrease of 10.6 percent. Some of the largest gains included Gatorade G2 Perform, Gatorade Perform and Powerade Ion4. Gatorade G2 Perform increased its market share to 11.1 percent, up from 0.1 percent reported last year.

Although sports drinks had a rebound year compared to 2010, the category has seen emerging competition, such as coconut water due to its naturally occurring electrolytes. PepsiCo increased its investment in One Natural Experience (O.N.E.), a Los Angeles-based company that manufactures coconut water. Last year, O.N.E. released O.N.E. Active coconut water that enhances naturally electrolyte-rich coconut water with the addition of ginkgo biloba, panax ginseng, catuaba bark and antioxidants. The beverage is sweetened with stevia and available in Grape/Berry, Lemon/Lime and Cranberry/Grapefruit varieties.

Also emerging in the sports drink niche categories are companies such as Celsius Holdings Inc., Boca Raton, Fla. The company’s Celsius products are non-carbonated pre-exercise fitness drinks that contain vitamins and make claims that the product helps to boost metabolism. BI