The global sports beverage industry is catalyzed by futuristic innovations riding on the momentum offered by key trends. The millennial generation is driving demand and the need for innovative sports beverages, and competition is high.
The sports beverage industry interlocks with the trends prevailing in the functional drinks industry. Sports beverages are drinks designed for consumption among athletes as a convenient option to replace electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, sodium and glucose, as well as other important fluids that are lost during the process of various endurance activities.
These beverages usually constitute sugar, water, sodium, flavors, artificial colors and potassium. An interesting development in the sports beverage industry over the past few decades is the marketing transition from offering products to athletes to mainstream consumers.
The influx of a sizable number of flavor companies into the sports beverage space backs the development to cater to the general public’s nutritional demands.
Millennials and sports beverages
The millennial generation has been driving the industry exponentially because of their growing inclination towards physical and fitness related activities, high buying capacity, acute interest in flavor innovation and willingness to pay for healthier alternatives. Given this scenario, sugar-free and low-calorie sports beverages are emerging segments. Manufacturers are backing the efforts to entice health-conscious consumers, notably women, into consuming these beverages.
North America market trends
North America emerged as the largest market for non-alcoholic beverages in 2018 because of a shift in dietary patterns and a growing interest in athletic activities. In a report by Grand View Research, the North American sports beverages market was valued at $27.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $40.1 billion by 2025, progressing at a CAGR of 5.7 percent over the forecast period.
The sports beverage industry is expected to evolve concurrently with emerging trends across the globe. The prominent trends that have gripped the industry over the past few years are discussed below.
#1 – Innovative natural ingredients: The frontrunner
With a growing number of consumers showing interest in physical activity, sports beverages have been gaining immense popularity with the introduction of innovative flavors, most notably involving natural ingredients. On the marketing front, sports beverage manufacturers consider this development as a key marketing opportunity to gain a foothold in the sports beverage industry while focusing on global expansion.
A further driver associated with the rising consumption of sports beverages across the globe is the rapidly intensifying cult of beauty backed by increasing press and social media. Some of the natural ingredients that are being increasingly employed for the production of sports beverages are wheat grass powder, algae, raw cacao, electrolytes (natural), turmeric, ashwagandha, moringa and fruit extracts. These ingredients are known to improve digestive system performance, while boosting immunity and enhancing the overall health of an individual.
#2 – Product innovation: New pockets of growth
The sports beverage industry is driven by the increasing instances of product innovation. Wild flavors are being showcased on retail shelves, including specialty ingredients. The industry has witnessed a growing interest among sports beverage manufacturers to offer a wide range of innovative solutions, ranging from classic sports drinks with low calorie options, to variations in the existing juice contents and new flavors.
Key players operating in the sports beverages industry, led by two dominant companies, (PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company), have focused on product innovation in recent years. For instance, in April 2018, PepsiCo launched a sugar-free sports beverage under the Gatorade Zero brand. The strategic move highlighted an effort to increase the popularity of the Gatorade brand by reintroducing consumers to its popular sports drink, Gatorade. Such developments are expected to sustain throughout the forecast period (2019-2025) because of the intense competitive rivalry prevailing in the industry.
#3 – Ready-To-Drink: Outperforming powders
Convenience is the operative word when it comes to influencing the consumers’ buying decision of sports beverages. In this regard, the ready-to-drink (RTD) segment has witnessed significant growth over the past few years, thereby hinting at its growth potential for the near future. While powdered sports beverages consume less space, the RTD sports beverages are available in suitable bottles in retail stores. As the name itself suggests, this category of beverages eliminates the need for consumers to mix the ingredients before consumption.
The RTD segment is being increasingly preferred by millennials across the world because of convenience and ease of consumption. Furthermore, leveraging new technology has made these RTD sports beverages more functional–a key trend within the industry in recent years.
The sports beverages industry is characterized by a high degree of competitive rivalry among major players. Despite the dominance of international players, the industry has enticed new players because of the demand for a wide variety of flavors and ingredients, most notably among millennials. In the years ahead, the industry is expected to follow the lead of traditional medicines coupled with innovative flavors.
Furthermore, rising health concerns among consumers are expected to force sports drink manufacturers to be more transparent about ingredients used. When it comes to competition, the industry is expected to witness instances of mergers and acquisitions in a bid to stay abreast of the competition prevailing in the industry. Also, key players are expected to target international multi-sport events such as The 2020 Summer Olympics to retain and strengthen their prominent position in the industry.
About the author
Senior Research Associate Dhanush Honnappa currently works at Grand View Research and has been an integral part of the Consumer Goods research domain. He has been instrumental in offering valuable insights for the industry. He has also authored a sizable number of reports pertaining to various industries including chemicals, metals, minerals and materials.
Dhanush began his career as an Associate prior to being promoted to the Senior Associate position. His expertise in assessing new market avenues has also aided in offering effective business solutions to the clients or stakeholders associated with the personal care industry.
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One Response to “The sports beverage industry: On the cusp of a thirst war”
Knowing the graphics on how Millenials adopt with a sports beverage aside from athletes that needed them the most, they are engaged with the products as well.