Have you ever wondered about who actually needs sports drinks? Answer: [Almost] Nobody. Hydration, electrolytes, isoschmonics – it’s yet another example of 1st-rate marketing hoopla.
Sure, if you’re running a marathon, or playing at Wimbledon this week and the sun happens to be glimpsing out in between alternating episodes of drizzle and hailstorms, these concoctions may have the edge over water. But that’s not what and who this sickly sweet swill is aimed at. If manufacturers set out to make drinks solely for committed athletes, they’d be out of business faster than you could swing a hockey stick.
Sports drinks are targeted at adolescent boys (and adolescent men). I mean, who in their right mind would drink something that’s blue? It’s all about feeding guys’ fantasies that they aren’t fallible, feeble, fragile little mortals, but… uhm… ‘performance machines’. And these, as everybody knows, aren’t fuelled by frothy strawberry milkshakes topped with chocolate sprinkles, but something more akin to petrol.
Now the statsy bit. In 2012, nearly 12 million litres of sports drinks were sold globally. To add some context & comparison: cola sales amounted to ten times as much, orange carbonates to just under double, while energy drinks sales came to about half of those of sports drinks.
The leading global sports drinks brand (by annual retail value sales, 2012) is Gatorade (by PepsiCo), followed by Powerade and Aquarius (both Coca-Cola-owned brands). In fourth place is Pocari Sweat owned by Japanese company Otsuka Holdings. Only in Asia could you sell a brand with a name like that…
In per capita consumption terms, the US leads the league table, guzzling 17.6 litres a head in 2012, followed by Denmark with 13.8 litres, Japan (10.7 litres), Malaysia (8.2 litres), Spain (6 litres) and Peru (5.4 litres) Peru?! The mind boggles.
Among the countries with a surprisingly abstemious consumption are Germany (2.1 litres), Italy (2.4 litres), Switzerland (1.1 litres) and Mexico at 2.6 litres. The reason Mexico’s low sports drinks intake seems baffling at first glance is that the country has the second-highest global consumption levels of soft drinks in the world (after the US). I have no doubt that this paradox is squarely down to price – sports drinks tend to be premium positioned, meaning that they sell at a much higher price point than standard pop, and so the average Mexican consumer won’t be able to afford to buy this stuff in any great quantity.
Oh, and Austrians downed a paltry 0.4 litres of sports drinks per capita in 2012. That must be due to the fact that this little Alpine nation, aka. home of Red Bull, is totally hooked on Energy drinks, and in that category they lead the global consumption charts. There are only so many chemical cocktails a human body can imbibe without short-circuiting…
For an article on global soft drinks consumption and preferences, click here.
For an article on energy drinks, click here.
[For data source, click here]