Gatorade Sales Plummet

Does this look like Gatorade to you? Gatorade’s volume sales fell by 13.7% in the first quarter, according to a Beverage Digest report out today , and some blame the new bottle design. The idea is that the new design, on most store shelves since January, is so different from the old one that consumers don’t recognize it. The brand faces other problems: Coca-Cola is putting Gatorade in a vise, running attack ads on the brand from the lower-priced Powerade, and spending heavily on sports advertising for the higher-priced Vitamin Water, which was a sponsor of the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

Here’s what happened to sports drinks sales in the first quarter, according to Beverage Diget’s John Sicher:

Sports Drinks 1st Qtr 2009      
  Vol Share Share +/- Vol +/-
Gatorade 73.7 -6.3 -13.7%
Powerade 25.1 6.1 23.6%
Other 1.2 0.2  
Category 100   -6.3%
Source: Beverage Digest      

Meanwhile, PepsiCo Americas Beverages CEO Massimo D’Amore told Sicher he thinks the sales decline is due to consumers trading down to cheaper beverages, not the redesign.

I think all those factors are contributing - a 6 point loss of market share in 3 months is severe. Earlier in the month I wrote about the massive overhaul underway inside PepsiCo, which includes an overhaul of seven major brands. At that point, the jury was still out, except for the failed rebranding of Tropicana. If Gatorade sales don’t recover, this will give D’Amore two serious losses, with the future of five brands still to be seen.

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