Gatorade Changes Up Its Game

PepsiCo, which has given facelifts to many of its beverage products, is now attempting to up Gatorade’s game with new packaging and renamed line extensions.

New iterations of Gatorade Thirst Quencher, the flagship Gatorade brand, will sport a large letter G next to the brand’s iconic bolt. “For Gatorade, G represents the heart, hustle and soul of athleticism and will become a badge of pride for anyone who sweats,” according to a company press release. (Reps from The Gatorade Co., a unit of PepsiCo, could not be reached at press time.)

Meanwhile, line extensions have been renamed to “convey the attitude of a tough-love coach or personal trainer, through in-your-face names on the label,” the release states. Thus, Gatorade Fierce is now Bring It, and X-Factor has been renamed Be Tough.

Gatorade AM, a product positioned as a morning refresher, is now called Shine On, while Rain is now No Excuses. Another extension called Gatorade Tiger will tout a new “focus” benefit brought by the presence of theanine, which, when combined with carbohydrates and advanced hydration, is said to promote mental focus a la the beverage’s inspiration, golfer Tiger Woods. Plans for advertising were not disclosed. TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles, is Gatorade’s lead agency.

The activity comes as PepsiCo has also introduced new looks for its flagship Pepsi brand, Tropicana and Mountain Dew. In Gatorade’s case, the changes coincide with a loss of some market share in recent years to rivals in the “hydration” category, most notably Glaceau Vitaminwater, which Coca-Cola bought for $4.2 billion in 2007. Still, Gatorade controls around 80 percent of the category. “They’re really maintained that share very well,” said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. “[Coca-Cola’s] Powerade hasn’t been able to make much inroads.” Sicher said that Gatorade’s various line extensions have helped sustain that market share and that the company is being proactive by “refreshing and modernizing some of those sub-lines.”

Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, said that while the large G packaging is getting mixed reviews among distributors, PepsiCo should earn points for audacity. “Pepsi is really rolling the dice these days on the branding front,” he said. “This is pretty much a total revamp on the Gatorade side.” Khermouch, however, said that Gatorade faces some tough competition, particularly from Coca-Cola, which has been executing promotional pricing for Vitaminwater all year. “Coke has really trashed the category,” said Khermouch. “Gatorade is forced to react to that.”