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  • Spotlight on Sports Nutrition
  • In the quest for optimum health, a sound diet goes hand in hand with regular exercise. To maximize the benefit of their exercise, more consumers are turning to sports nutrition bars, meals, powders and beverages formulated with extra vitamins and protein. To that end, sports food and beverage brands have the potential for tremend...
  • 2011-05-25
  • In the quest for optimum health, a sound diet goes hand in hand with regular exercise. To maximize the benefit of their exercise, more consumers are turning to sports nutrition bars, meals, powders and beverages formulated with extra vitamins and protein. To that end, sports food and beverage brands have the potential for tremendous growth if they can encourage mass consumption by widening the appeal of their products. However, they risk losing their loyal core customer base if they over-market their products, according to a new report from Datamonitor.
     
    In its report titled Exercise and Sports Nutrition: Consumer Trends and Product Opportunities, market analyst companyDatamonitor explained that although sports nutrition brands have already made progress in the mainstream market, there is room for further growth as consumers are undeniably becoming more interested in improving their health and fitness. This is due to rising global obesity levels combined with a growing appreciation of the benefits of being physically fit. In fact, the analysts who prepared the report found that 45% of consumers are paying a high amount of attention to their fitness levels.

    Among the 20 countries surveyed by the report¡¯s analysts, 28% of consumers overall were characterized as potential lifestyle users of sports nutrition products. The small proportion of total market spend that lifestyle consumers do account for is primarily directed toward nutritional bars and carbohydrate ready to drinks, and these purchases are typically spur of the moment.

    ¡°Although there is great potential for sports nutrition to break into the mainstream, brands that want to grow their customer base and protect their existing business must ensure they tailor their marketing to specific groups of consumers. In fact, brands looking to capitalize on the growing market for sports nutrition face disastrous consequences if they lose sight of their core market,¡± said Joseph Robinson, an analyst at Datamonitor. ¡°Manufacturers face a difficult balancing act to ensure the future growth of sports nutrition products.¡±

    In recent years, sports drinks brands have worked diligently to connect with the different needs of consumers across the spectrum. In addition to their ongoing popularity among the ¡°core performance users¡± and ¡°regularly active¡± segments, they have permeated the ¡°occasionally active¡± and ¡°lifestyle users¡± segments¡ªimpacting both the health drinks and soft drinks categories.

    But it¡¯s easy to take the marketing too far. The report spotlighted PepsiCo¡¯s Gatorade brand as an example of the dangers of attempting to appeal to a wider consumer base too aggressively. In a 2009 attempt to compete with Powerade¡¯s success among mainstream consumers, Gatorade launched its ¡°What is G?¡± marketing campaign. The campaign was heavily focused on image and was designed to appeal to the everyday consumer. However, it alienated Gatorade¡¯s existing loyal customer base, and confused the mainstream consumers with whom it was hoping to engage.
     
    ¡°To achieve success and to ensure sports nutrition products are incorporated into everyday consumption, brands need to overcome a number of hurdles. One of these is education,¡± explained Mr. Robinson. ¡°Currently, some brands are struggling to convey their nutritional benefits clearly enough. This is highlighted by the fact that 38% of consumers find food and health information confusing and conflicting.¡±
     
    For sports nutrition companies hoping to gain a steady foothold in the market, Mr. Robinson advised a cautious and well-thought-out approach to branding and product marketing. ¡°Sports nutrition manufacturers should be proactive with marketing when trying to educate consumers about the efficacy of their products. However, in doing so, it is imperative that brands recognize the impact of packaging and the important role that professional accreditation can play,¡± he said. ¡°For sports nutrition brands, gaining professional accreditation is particularly important in ensuring loyalty among more serious segments.¡±
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