Almost all of us have grown up watching athletes sip colorful drinks during the games. ‘That’s how they stay energized’ we thought, and we were not wrong. Sports drinks have been an indispensable part of an athlete’s kit since the early ’70s when ‘hydration’ became the new mantra.
What started strictly as a sports necessity slowly made its way into the fitness industry, becoming a go-to drink for those who could use the extra kick. Soon, sports drinks were flooding vending machines and grocery counters across the country, enticing anyone who may be interested. But with popularity also came criticisms, something that continues even to this day. Piplsay reached out to fitness and sports enthusiasts* to find out what they think about this trend. Here’s what we got:
Sports drinks are instant energizers and replenishers, and it’s not uncommon to see people drinking them while training or exercising. But when it comes to personal choice, a majority of Americans still prefer good old water to keep themselves hydrated. A big reason could be the high sodium and sugar content in these drinks, a big no-no for fitness enthusiasts. Even the low-calories versions available in the market today are facing stiff competition from flavored water, coconut water, etc. that are fast gaining popularity.
Still, sports drinks have a sizeable chunk of loyal consumers, over half of whom swear by their positive effects on performance. But opinions are not as clear when it comes to the calories that come with it. That’s because while athletes tend to burn these extra calories given their long and high-intensity training, fitness enthusiasts are less likely to do so with moderate exercises like weights and running.
What’s interesting is that close to 80% of sports drink lovers consume them beyond physical activities as well, especially teens and millennials. That’s not surprising given that sports drinks are often marketed as thirst quenchers or health drinks for a broader appeal. Brands also constantly experiment with flavors and nutrient content to stay innovative and competitive. Among them, Pepsico’s Gatorade continues to be the big daddy of the sports drink world with a humongous lead. Trailing behind the pioneer is Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water which is quickly climbing up the charts. In fact, all top 5 brands in the list belong to either of the two companies. The competition is so stiff that Coca-Cola acquired Kobe Bryant backed start-up Body Armor last year in an attempt to challenge Pepsi’s continuing dominance in the sports drinks market.
The sports drinks market is expected to grow from US$22 billion in 2017 to US$28.5 billion by 2023**
Sports drinks will continue to exist as long as sports do. But beyond the field, it’s the game of changing consumer preferences that will fuel the thirst war.
* Based on 20,000 online responses; **PRNewswire