Sports drinks manufacturers are keeping pace with consumers who are seeking added benefits in their beverages. Gatorade enhanced its brand lineup—not just with new packaging—but blends that promote specific health benefits. Their efforts are paying off with increased sales.
According to SymphonyIRI, sales of single-serve sports drinks in convenience stores jumped a healthy 8.85% to $2.46 billion for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2012. Unit sales were up 6.2% to 1.47 billion.
As expected, Gatorade and Powerade dominated category sales with their brands accounting for the top 12 SKUs in terms of sales dollars and units sold. The sales spike was fueled by two SKUs in particular. Traditional Gatorade saw sales spike a whopping 108.43% to 170 million. Powerade Zero also experienced impressive growth jumping 15.1% to $79.7 million.
Gatorade Perform was the top brand in the category by a wide margin, outselling the No. 2 SKU Powerade ION4 by nearly four to one ($1.37 billion and $378 million, respectively).
“Sports drinks are about as stable as anything in the cooler,” said Eric Huppert, president of Team Oil in Spring Valley, Wis. “Plus, their customers are very loyal. They come in more than once a week and they spend on other products as well. It’s a growing category with a real upside.”
Business in bottled water is brisk, largely thanks to suppliers doing their part. “They continue to reinvent themselves,” said Tariq Khan, a Rockville Centre, N.Y.-based veteran c-store operator, franchisee and former president of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees. “They continue to come up with new ideas to revive the interest of the consumers. It’s like a shot in the arm for beverage sales when you have a hot new product. It creates excitement for the public and drives customers into our stores.”
Khan, who operates 10 Sentar Fuel locations and five 7-Eleven stores, also praised bottled water companies for doing their part in promoting their products. “These companies spend money to help market their products, which helps a retailer like myself generate some additional business and revive the beverage category on an ongoing basis,” he said. “That is something I appreciate.”
Among the top-selling brands, Khan said, Poland Spring continues to generate double-digit sales. “We have some of our own 7-Eleven brand product which is also doing well.”
Promotional activity has also proved to be effective for building sales. In an effort to help ease the pain at the gas pump, VERC Enterprises, a convenience store and Mobil/Gulf gasoline operator with 23 locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, ran a highly successful promotion last summer that gave away free bottles of Nestlé Pure Life water to gasoline customers.
The promotion succeeded in driving sales both at the pumps and in the company’s convenience stores.