Goodbye Gatorade (G Series) Fit, see you in 2014 after your re-positioning initiative. PepsiCo reportedly started pulling their Gatorade Fit line-up on drinks from store shelves earlier in August as a result of sub par performance (link here). From their initial 2011 re-positioning launch, BevWire had also speculated that one of G Series beverage line-ups may eventually be pulled (link here). Was this product destined to fail from the beginning? Would the “occasional” athlete want to be considered the occasional athlete, rather than the serious athlete?
Gatorade’s original problem was that their product had fallen into the hands of consumers beyond their target market with sales growing outside athletic consumers – which puts them in an enviable position by any means. This re-branded effort was an attempt to create product separation between these general consumers and their core consumer – the athlete. One of the key issues after the re-branding efforts was the nine different segments for the Gatorade beverage portfolio. Although they showed ingenuity to differentiate consumption occasions (Prime – pre-training, Perform – mid-training, Recover – post-training), the “athletic segmentation” may have created confusion and led to the G Series Fit’s poor performance. The Original G Series, G Series Fit, and G Series Pro became the “athletic segmentation” to differentiate occasional athletes, fitness fanatics, and the professional athletes.
However, the image problem persists if the G Series Fit’s target market does not see enough value to trade up from the Original G Series. Even more so, is that the occasional athletes would never want to be considered just an occasional athlete – so they would try to copy what the more serious or professional athletes are drinking. This is the original point of having athletes endorse your product because you want the audience to feel as if the performance can be attained by using the product (cases in point – the Gatorade Michael Jordan Be Like Mike campaign, and the recent Gatorade Michael Jordan Win From Within Campaigns). Consider that the image of being athlete is also part of the selling equation – examples of why lululemon and Underarmour are used beyond the scope of yoga and athletic training people. Bottom line: these occasional athletes would believe that they can achieve the level of fitness they want only by using what the pros use, not the occasional stuff.
After taking pricing into consideration, and the variety of products that are on the market now to hydrate an athlete, there was just not be enough value created by the G Series Fit line-up. The fitness fanatic athlete may stick with the G Series products since it would provide the minimum necessary benefits they are seeking, and also purchase coconut water as they contain more rehydrating benefits. The occasional athlete would see that these serious athletes are also only using the Original G Series line-up and continue purchasing these themselves.
Lesson: Gatorade was in an enviable position of having its product reach mainstream beyond athletes, but their “athletic segmentation” did not product enough value for trading up for the serious athletes – cannibalization by their Original G Series line-up. And with the market changes that welcomed coconut water, along with their confusing line-up, something had to give.