Gatorade is making an unexpected move into the burgeoning "functional water" market and adding a clear option to their bevy of vibrantly-colored drinks. And, now I can't help but wonder, "have we come full circle?"
Instead of Fierce Grape or Frost Glacier Cherry, think water — but not just any water. Gatorade Water aims to capitalize on the growing consumer interest in waters with purported health benefits. The functional water industry is anticipated to reach a staggering $18 billion in sales within the next two years.
The Formula Behind Gatorade Water
Set to hit stores early next year, Gatorade Water is a blend of electrolyte-infused, unflavored water that undergoes a seven-step filtration process. It also boasts alkaline and optimized pH levels. This latest offering broadens Gatorade's existing product lineup, which includes not just sports drinks but also energy beverages, protein powders, and capsules.
Why Gatorade is Betting on Water
Gatorade's president, Michael Del Pozzo, pointed out that nearly 30 million consumers are currently not buying enhanced water. He believes the issue is brand trust. (Or that we are perfectly okay with the OG stuff). With Gatorade's iconic orange bolt featured prominently on the packaging, Del Pozzo expects the brand's strong reputation to disrupt the functional water market, which has surged in recent years due to perceived health advantages.
The Health Claims: Fact or Fad?
Competing brands like Essentia and SmartWater have popularized the notion of alkaline and electrolyte-infused water, attributed with benefits from weight loss to clearer skin. (Again, OG water doesn't his too when you don't add sugar to it.) Despite the buzz, there's little scientific evidence supporting these claims. Both nutrition and medical experts have been cautious about endorsing alkaline water, indicating that it remains more a fad than a proven health solution.
The Market Landscape and Gatorade's Prospects
The demand for functional water has spiked, particularly during the pandemic, and Gatorade Water faces stiff competition. Coca-Cola's Smartwater leads the pack, owning nearly 27% of the U.S. market share. Gatorade Water will also be up against other PepsiCo brands like LIFEWTR and Propel.
For Gatorade, the challenge lies in marketing their new product convincingly enough for consumers to see the value in potentially paying more compared to regular water.
Despite the skepticism around the alleged health benefits of functional water, Gatorade believes this is an opportunity to expand its portfolio in a way that its competitors can't. And if consumer interest in "hydration as a daily health routine" is anything to go by, Gatorade Water might just be diving into a very lucrative pool.
Okay, I guess I'll try it during my next hangover.