The Gatorade Co continues to hold a commanding lead in the United States energy drink market through the Gatorade sports drink range, with 36% of off-trade value sales in 2012. Gatorade was the first major sports drink brand, and has maintained its lead through continuous product introductions, offering different flavours and formulations to appeal to different consumer groups. Gatorade rebranded its products from Gatorade to G in 2009, and the move initially confused some consumers, causing a decline in share. However, G2, the low-calorie version, did well. Since 2010, the brand has recovered as consumers have once again become familiar with the product and its new labelling.
Sports drinks? performance was the contributor to the slowdown in growth in sports and energy drinks in 2012. Growth in sales of sports drinks slowed in 2012 after an acceleration in 2011, as such products faced new competition from coconut water, as well as ongoing controversy about their healthiness. Off-trade volume sales of sports drinks grew by 2% in 2012, after 16% growth in 2011. Though the recovery of the US economy should aid premium drinks such as sports drinks, it did not in 2012. Athletic consumers and parents have long viewed sports drinks as necessities to a hard workout, as they have seen professional athletes drink Gatorade during televised games. However, the tide has been turning away from sports drinks, as health professionals now view them as an unnecessary source of calories.
Sports and energy drinks face a challenging road ahead in terms of proving their safety and health to consumers, in addition to the challenge of broadening their appeal to more consumer segments. Total sales of sports and energy drinks are expected to grow by 17% in volume terms between 2012 and 2017, to reach 8.5 billion litres. The forecast for combined off-trade and on-trade volume sales for the 2012-2017 period is slightly lower than the 20% growth achieved over the 2007-2012 period. Sales of sports and energy drinks are expected to grow by 28% in off-trade value terms to reach US$20.3 billion. While energy drinks have reached a high level of penetration, constant innovation from manufacturers supported by edgy advertising should enable the companies to grow sales.
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