Gatorade has recently launched their G Series product line, which offers sports drinks for the athlete before, during, and after their activity. Advertising Age has some more information as well as the full size of the G Series image summary below (link here – article may require subscription to view). The sports drinks manufacturer faced a dilemma as the sports beverage’s increased popularity propelled Gatorade into a mainstream beverage alternative and began alienating their target consumer – the athlete. With the understanding that they were in an precarious position having their product appeal to the masses but driving away their target, Gatorade sought out to reformulate their beverage and market it again to the core consumer. The solution is a three part G Series Prime, G Series Perform, and G Series Recover lineup, layered on top of a three segment G Series, G Series Fit, and G Series Pro.
The end result may end up confusing their consumers more than ever. Who determines whether you are a regular athlete or a competitive athlete? Does recreational competition count as a competitive athlete? How does Gatorade’s distribution facilitate their new products – will G Series be offered everywhere while G Series Fit offered only in gyms, and G Series Pro only sold to sports teams? Will the price points be identical for these three segments? What about the flavor options? At the end of all this, Gatorade may the one that loses. Not only are they confusing their consumer, it’s a given that cannibalization will occur.
With a price differentiation strategy, they cannot price differentiate each segment too much, or else POWERade will end up appearing comparatively less expensive and be rewarded with the sale. Not to mention, the price strategy is not always up to the manufacturer to decide, they can only suggest the retail price. Lastly, the pricing itself may act as an indirect indicator that the G Series Pro is better and drive higher sales for this segment but block sales for G Series and G Series Fit.
In terms of distribution, will all three segments be offered in the same place? It’s unlikely that all options will be available at a retailer, given the lineup and shelf space available for their beverages. So this leads to limitations on where their products can be found – what if a ‘competitive athlete’ forgets to bring his G Series Pro Perform when he’s heading out to train, will he be able to find it at his local grocery store or will he have to buy it at a specialty retailer (if it can even be found)?
In my opinion, Gatorade as a sports drink became popular beyond athletes not only because of its taste and purpose, but also because of its image. People that consume Gatorade want to give off the impression that they are an athlete and in shape. The ‘in shape’ image is extremely important in today’s society, so even those that do not exercise may choose to leave their house in training gear and grab a Gatorade to drink. Think of Underarmour and lululemon’s popularity that extends beyond the athlete and yoga performer. It’s for those same reasons that Gatorade has gained everyday beverage consumption among athletes and non-athletes alike.
My prediction? At least one of those three segments (G Series, G Series Fit, G Series Pro) will disappear from the market stemmed from slow sales, and the sales trends will indicate that consumers are choosing either the G Series or the G Series Pro. We’ll just have to wait and see how it long it will take.