- PepsiCo's Gatorade brand will release a caffeinated version of its Bolt24 line in 2020, according to Yahoo Finance. The new beverage will be called Bolt24 Energize.
- Each 16.9-ounce bottle will retail for $2.19 and come in three flavors: Strawberry Lemon, Orange Passion Fruit and Cherry Lime. The drink will contain 50 to 75 mg of caffeine per bottle and have 100% of the recommended daily intake of antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as vitamins B3, B5 and B6. The drinks will also have electrolytes from watermelon and sea salt, Food Business News reported.
- Gatorade debuted the Bolt24 line in July with antioxidant beverages geared toward athletes looking for hydration and nutrients throughout the day.
This isn't the first time Gatorade has turned to innovation for a boost. PepsiCo has devised many iterations of its beverage line as it works to drum up new interest in a beverage that represents $7.5 billion in annual revenue, or more than 15% of the company's beverage sales, according to Euromonitor data reported by the Wall Street Journal. Although Gatorade is still the No. 1 sports drink in the U.S. with a 28.1% share of the market, according to Statista data, there is still plenty of room for growth.
Mixed results have come from efforts to innovate Gatorade. In 2007, the brand released G2, a lower-calorie version of the original. Then in 2010, there was the G Series with formulations for pre- and post-game recovery. In 2016, the brand unveiled Gatorade Organic, which was artificial-coloring free and made with organic cane sugar. Sales were so lackluster, some stores in New York City dropped prices for the organic version — which usually commands a premium — so it cost less per ounce than regular Gatorade.
Despite PepsiCo's efforts, 2017 was the year Gatorade experienced its first sales drop in the U.S. in five years. During this same period, BodyArmor — which markets itself as a healthier alternative to Gatorade with no artificial colors, natural sweeteners and potassium-packed electrolytes — was able to double sales to $235 million. And it's not just consumers who are paying attention. Last year, Coca-Cola took a minority stake in BodyArmor and indicated it may be interested in full ownership of the brand later.
This latest effort with Bolt24 Energy appeals to consumers interested in caffeine and functional ingredients, both trends that have become increasingly popular in recent years. But Bolt24 is far from the first to move in on these, with Body Armor already focusing on adding daily vitamins and electrolytes from natural sources.
Gatorade is crossing into the crowded energy drink market with this launch. According to Market Research Hub, U.S. sales of energy drinks could total about $16.9 billion by 2022. Total sales were worth close to $11 billion in 2018, a 7.5% jump from the previous year. This growth stands in contrast to sports drinks, which have been sidelined for the last several years as other options like kombucha and coconut water slurp up market share for consumers looking for healthier alternatives.
Energy drinks have transformed from the early days when they served as a one-size-fits-all quick infusion of energy dominated by the likes of Red Bull and Monster. Now there are options such as Runa that deliver "clean" energy from the Ecuadorian guayusa leaf and comes in no-calorie, no-sugar options. Monster has added variety to its portfolio with this year’s release of a 100% vegan energy drink called Java Monster Farmer's Oats. Both Amazon and 7-Eleven released private label options touting healthier profiles, while 7-Eleven's Quake boasts a combination of vitamins, electrolytes and caffeine. Then there is Coca-Cola, which is launching its new Coca-Cola Energy line in the U.S. in January.
PepsiCo has a history of waiting until a segment is developed until it releases its own brand into the mix. That strategy has been both successful and problematic. Bubly water reached $300 million in annual revenue after a little longer than a year on shelves, and executives expect it to hit $1 billion in the short term, according to The Wall Street Journal. But, in the case of Gatorade Organic, the strategy flopped.
The energy drink market is proving to be a boon for innovation. And despite the crowded market, none of the other recent launches are marketed as caffeinated sports drinks, which could give PepsiCo an advantage. The introduction of Bolt24 Energize could pose a threat to smaller brands that capture consumer interest, but cannot compete with the brand recognition or the distribution of Gatorade.