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This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.
No matter your level of athletic ability or ambition, it’s highly likely that — at some point — Gatorade has been part of your beverage repertoire. And while sports drinks have always been Gatorade’s bread and butter, the trust and goodwill toward the global icon has given it the ever-so-desirable license to continually dip its toes in the water and take the plunge entering adjacent categories. Of course, all new releases are centered around the brand’s goal of supporting individuals with any form of athletic aspirations.
This has resulted in a growing list of innovations, from protein bars to energy gels, and most recently Gatorade Gummies and Gatorade Fast Twitch. Though high-performance has still been a consistent thread across each new release, both were a slight departure from the brand’s sports drinks heartland; Gummies spreading Gatorade’s wings into the non-liquid recovery/immune supplements category, and the caffeinated, zero-sugar Fast Twitch aiming to lower the barriers of entry for those who’d otherwise reject the energy drinks category.
Even with the longer leash that Gatorade has deservedly earned itself, are these products still a good fit with the brand? And as crucially, do they address a real consumer need and offer something advantageous versus what’s currently available in market? We put both to the test using our 3Cs methodology to find out:
Liquid or solid? For Gatorade, it didn’t matter. Both concepts proved highly likable — a function of both the respective flavor variants on offer and benefits/occasions they were aiming to serve. This resulted in both products being found highly appealing, regardless of shape or format. While both were distinctive, Gummies had the slight upper hand in terms of convenience and originality — people responding positively to the idea of Gatorade meeting their pre or post exercise needs through an easy-to-consume (and delicious) format.
While the non-liquid format of Gummies was a departure from the brand’s beverage heartland, both products still effortlessly aligned with Gatorade’s wheelhouse of supporting athletes’ energy and recovery needs. As a result, there weren’t any question marks around the product’s synergy with the wider Gatorade brand. While the neon-green aesthetic of Fast Twitch didn’t feature the brand’s distinctive orange hue, people still found its vibrancy highly appealing and the overall design easily attributable to Gatorade.
Despite the undisputed popularity of energy drinks, health has been a major barrier to category entry when consumers are on the hunt for a ‘pick-me-up’ beverage. In targeting more active individuals in need of a workout boost, it might be limiting Fast Twitch’s market somewhat. However, the results indicate that the unique benefits offered by the caffeinated (yet no-sugar) formula has the potential to motivate a broader audience — not just self-proclaimed ‘fitness fanatics’.
The same was true for Gummies, with people believing both products struck a good balance between nutritional value and tastiness — thus making the propositions highly appealing amongst all beverage consumers. The only cautionary note, however, is that the high proposed price point of Gummies proved difficult to swallow, and represents a significant barrier to purchase for many who were otherwise enthusiastic toward the idea.
Although the lure of expanding into adjacent categories is often too hard for ambitious brands to ignore, marketers should pause and ask themselves three important questions before considering such a move:
While not every brand is in the same fortunate position as Gatorade (in terms of their widespread recognition and reputation), the brand should be admired for the incredibly single-minded and focused way in which they’ve built their product portfolio (especially when many other brands would’ve lost their way much earlier). Aiming to tap into every occasion where consumers require ‘fuel sources’, no matter the individual’s level of athletic aspiration, has resulted in Gatorade creating winning products that deliver much sought after incrementality.