Functional sports drinks have been used by athletes for decades. But now an increasing number of non-athletes are turning to them as a low-calorie way to stay energised. A new report from MyDrink Beverages suggests that as more people become health-conscious and seek an active lifestyle, the sports drinks category will continue to expand.
MyDrink Beverages report aims to explore the marketing strategies that have made businesses in this category successful. To this end, they have looked at ten successful products all launched in the United States or Europe in the past few years.
These functional drinks are increasingly sought out for their health benefits. “Sports drinks are becoming multi-functional, incorporating rehydration, nutrition and recovery to benefit the body before, during or after sports,” says Juste Akmenskyte, Partner Marketing Consultant at MyDrink Beverages. “It used to be that most sports drinks contained electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride, and a high percentage of sugar. But now an increasing number are being made with natural ingredients, which appeals more to health-conscious consumers.”
The report finds that choosing the right consumer segments is a vital element in soft drinks marketing. The companies that were most successful targeted niche consumer segments, rather than the mass market.
The report suggests that the under-34s are a key consumer segment for functional sports drinks. “With high production and marketing costs, these beverages are usually expensive,” says Juste Akmenskyte. “however, as practice shows, an increasing number of Generation Z and Millenials are health-aware and willing to pay the premium for products that are better for them.”
MyDrink Beverages report also finds that it’s increasingly viable to market these drinks as suitable for children. Previously, sports drinks were unsuitable for children due to the inclusion of artificial ingredients like colour and flavour additives. However, now with beverages that contain natural and organic ingredients, drinks companies can benefit from the involvement of this rather new consumer segment.
Since functional sports drinks contain numerous health benefits, companies have found success in promoting their brand by educating consumers en masse.
“The consumers need to be collectively educated (via TV shows, various health blogs, social media, product packaging, etc.) in order to understand the benefits of new functional sports drinks for their health and sports performance”, says Akmenskyte. “To achieve the best results, it’s also useful for different means of communication and media to be interrelated and support each other. Local sampling event can be engaging through social media, video advertising can then lead to social media engagement and so on”.
MyDrink Beverages report is grounded in qualitative research. It presents the findings of extensive market studies, consumer surveys, research in social media and specialised blogs, and interviews with the business people behind the ten successful products used as case studies.
“By looking at these recent successes in our report rather than focusing on long established players,” CEO Adomas Pranevicius says, “we intend our report to show entrepreneurs in the drinks industry what it takes to build a successful brand from scratch. It presents the marketing strategies which helped drive results and build the brand image of the 10 sports drinks used as case studies, while providing insights about opportunities for new sports drinks.”