INTRODUCTION The US sports drinks market is highly competitive. It accounts for the highest worldwide sports drink consumption. A sports drink is a deviation of an energy drink which aims at rehydration, sports performance and muscle recovery. The major players in this US market are Gatorade by PepsiCo & PowerAde by Coca-Cola. Gatorade Gatorade is accepted as the market leader of US sports drink market with nearly 75% market share as at 2008 (Sports Business Daily, 23 July 2009). The study analyses the marketing mix of Gatorade in US market with special concentration on its Marketing Communications.
It was introduced in 1965 as a thirst quencher by four medical researchers at University of Florida. The name for the drink came from ‘The Gators’, the first team who used the drink to achieve success. It was acquired by Quaker Oats Company and became a part of PepsiCo in 1998. GATORADE G2 Gatorade Company launched Gatorade G2 in 2007 as a low-calorie electrolyte beverage. The product is considered as a healthy choice beverage by athletes and became the highest grossing food product in USA in 2008 with sales of $159. 1 million (Advertising Age, 25 March 2009).
The target market for G2 can be defined as; * They are active and athletic (Professional or Non-professional) * They aim fast rehydration on and off the field * They are health conscious, concerned about the sugar content of the product. It can be identified that G2 is aiming for a rapidly developing market as US consumers are increasingly becoming health conscious and is becoming serious about physical training & fitness. MARKETING MIX PRODUCT Gatorade G2 is a low calorie electrolyte beverage which is packed with vitamins. The product entered a rapid growth stage in 2008.
In response to the entrance of PowerAde Zero, the vitamin-packed, healthy beverage in to the sports drinks market in late 2008, some augmentations were introduced to G2 in 2009, which includes; * New packaging and labelling * Additions of Vitamins * New slogan: “1/2 the calories, all the G” The slogan of G2 can be readily associated with the target customer as ‘? the calories’ can be attributed to less sugar which the health conscious consumer expects from the product and ‘all the G’ guarantees that the consumer will be energized for ultimate performance.
This statement also acts as the USP for G2 by stating how the product is different from those of competitors. After the very successful 2008, G2 is forecasted to bring in higher sales in 2009. It is also expected to experience a further boost to the sales after it was included in the new G series in 2010 with an introduction of a powdered version. Sales 240m 160m 80M Time 2007 2008 2009 2010 Chart 1: PLC of G2 PRICE
Gatorade’s pricing strategy changed to a competitive strategy with the entrance of PowerAde Zero into the market. G2 is priced at $ 1. 49 per 20 Oz Bottle while Zero is priced at $ 1. 50 at Best-Price. com. The pricing also acts to generate an emotional response rather than a rational response from consumers which constitutes psychological pricing. PLACE Gatorade has always aimed at increasing availability & visibility of their products in order to follow the growth of sales. Gatorade G2 is now available in all major supermarkets in USA and Speciality sports stores such as GNC where athletes regularly make purchases.
They are available to colleges & high schools through “Athletic team dealers” and also through postal ordering schemes known as “high school hydration packs”. MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS The promotional strategy of G2 consists of integrated marketing communications which supplements its main communication channel of advertising with activities such as sales promotions, PR, sponsorships and product placements. * Advertising The advertising activities of G2 are two fold, online and offline.
The objective of their advertising strategy is to increase awareness of benefits of G2 and reinforce that idea with an aim of differentiating the products and persuading customers towards purchase. Offline advertising Gatorade used ‘Float’ commercials, which features sportsmen and women such as NBA’s Dwayne Wade and gymnast Chellsie Memmel. The advertising repeats Mohammed Ali’s Quote “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” which supports the brand slogan in a way that floating portrays lightness in calories and sting like a bee portrays the ability to accurately hit performance targets.
By employing high repetitions of advertisements during sports events such as Super bowl, the most watched event in US TV, they ensure high exposure to their brand thereby increasing awareness & recall of G2. Their print advertisements such as Gatorade Double Life mainly focus on sports magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Bounce and Dime as they carry a synergy with their target audience of Athletes, professional or non-professional. The TV advertising benefits for G2 in terms of Clout against cost as it reaches a large number of people which reduces cost per head.
But it can also be argued that clout is low with both mediums as they cannot be personalized. However, there is high control with both in a way that they can reach their target audience of sports enthusiasts. Online advertising Gatorade’s online advertising mainly focus on Banner advertising on sports sites which are visited by sports enthusiasts such as ESPN SportsZone, NBA. com in addition to their own website, Gatorade. com. They also use interactive media such as Moon-shot online game to increase consumer engagement with the brand.
In addition, guerrilla marketing such as the Gatorade G2 fan page in Facebook, Quest for G online reality series, is used to increase awareness among customers. These online promotions are beneficial in terms of Cost as they are less expensive than offline advertising and they also provide control as they can use information about users of social networks to target their particular audiences. Clout can also be said to be high as messages can be personalized based on details of Facebook user while a large audience of 116 million can be reached within USA. Mashable. com, 6 April 2010) * Sales promotions When considering sales boosting techniques adopted for the brand as a whole it can be said that their objective is on persuading customers to try the product with an aim of repeat purchases afterwards. The implementation of the ‘Team sales network’ which offers up to 80% discounts for orders made for sports-teams and special discounts for colleges and high schools through “High school hydration packs” can be useful here.
The sales promotion techniques can be said to be allowing them high control by enabling targeting of a particular audience and also allowing them to adjust the effort to suit consumer response. The credibility can be said to be high as delivering promised gifts and allowing discounts removes scepticisms. * Public relations The PR activity of Gatorade aims at creating publicity for their whole line of products. They are aimed at creating credibility for the brand as they have wider acceptability than other promotional tools.
By using mass media such as TV and newspapers to publish the news they can also create clout in terms of reaching a large number of people. Gatorade player of the year awards aims at recognising achievements of US high school students in areas of academic and athletic excellence in various sports arenas which promotes their contribution to developing educated sportspersons in US. (Gatorade. com, 15 April 2010) Gatorade launched the ‘Beat the Heat’ campaign in USA to educate parents and coaches about the importance of hydration in avoiding heat related injuries.
It’s conducted with the annual ‘Gatorade Training Camp’, a countrywide youth clinic program aimed at early age association with the brand aimed at creating loyalty. (NFL. com, 18 August 2009) ‘We love sweat’, is a TV and press campaign featuring Kaka & Ussain Bolt. It focuses on advising athletes on replacing what has been lost as a consequence of exercise with re-hydrants and aims at promoting Gatorade as essential components of training. (Foodbev. com, 14 May 2009) * Sponsorships and Celebrity endorsements Source credibility is of utmost importance to promote a sports drink.
They’ve endorsed athletes such as Dwayne Wade, Serena Williams & Chellsie Memmel, part of the new generation of high performing health conscious athletes, who can be closely associated with the essence of G2. By sponsoring a range of athletes from different sports arenas, they can also place G2 more prominently in the marketplace than competitors. The 2010 US College Cheerleading & Dance Team Championship is sponsored by G2 which allows awareness in 2. 5 million customers and help generate buzz about the brand in addition to G2 being allowed access to a variety of calorie conscious athletes.
It can be identified that sponsorships of college events offer control to G2 as it enables them to target college students who will be following the events through media. (Free-band TV News, 5 February 2010) * Product Placements The placement of G2 on the side-lines of NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball helps increasing its visibility. For example Josh Hamilton after scoring his 28th home run in MLB was offered a bottle of G2 and a towel with Gatorade symbol by a team-mate in front of media which did marvels for G2 in terms of credibility and clout.
Other than that, the ‘Gatorade Dunk’ the name given for showering the winning coach with the drinks cooler spells out that Gatorade is synonymous with US Sports. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 12 September 2008) In addition to the above Gatorade has gone to the front of gaming where G2 is featured in video games such as NBA Live and NBA Ballers. It even went to the lengths of creating an in-game feature called ‘Gatorade Thirst Meter’ in NBA 2K9. Although this can be said to offer high control, the total cost against clout, in terms of achieving a higher reach can be questioned. (Advertising Age, 14 May 2009)
NEW MARKET FOR G2? It can be recommended for the G2 brand to enter the wellness market which consists of non-athletes who are concerned about their weight, engaged in non-intensive workouts such as Yoga, Jogging, etc. This market is currently dominated by Coca-cola’s Vitaminwater. The slogan of “? the calories, all the G” can be used to promote the healthy properties of the drink and justifies its use in rehydration during exercise. For advertising, they can use wellness magazines such as prevention and also increase their availability at pharmacies which helps to increases credibility.
Placements of products in the vicinity of the competing products at supermarkets and printing of healthy properties on the label can also be recommended. CONCLUSION It can be concluded that the marketing communications plan followed by Gatorade is a very complex and managed effort which is difficult for the competitors to imitate. The excellence of their marketing effort is portrayed in their domination of the US sports drink market where the nearest competitor only holds a 10% market share while Gatorade controls an unparalleled 75% of the total market.
Entering into new markets is recommendable for G2 to aim for growth but it can be found out to be risky as the essence of the brand which has always been ‘A serious sports drink for Serious athletes’ can be endangered by broadening into new markets. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Arndt M. (2010), At Bat with Gatorade’s Product Placement Slugger, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, [Online] (Updated 12 September 2008), Available at: http://www. businessweek. com/magazine/content/08_41/b4103000296372. htm? chan=t, [Accessed 10 April 2010] 2. Bush M. (2009), Gatorade Really Gets Into the Game With Thirst Meter,
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