Vita Coco Vaults Into the Sports Drink Category

Vita Coco SportHaving invested heavily in the rollout and marketing of its mainstream-oriented lemonade flavor, Vita Coco is making an even bigger push to reach everyday consumers with the introduction of a new sports drink line.

Vita Coco Sport is the culmination of the brand’s partnership with Target, which was announced in April as part of the mass retailer’s “Made to Matter” program, one that aims to increase its customers’ access to natural and organic products.

Though Vita Coco has yet to formally publicize the launch of its sports-focused line, a marketing manager for the company yesterday revealed the debut of Vita Coco Sport via an image of the drinks, which she added to her Instagram account.

Promoted as “a coconut water based sports drink that tastes like the sports drink you love, but is all natural,” the beverages contain no artificial ingredients or additives, and “provides a healthy alternative for consumers who are tired of artificial, sugary, laboratory-processed sports drinks,” according to the company.

“We and Target wanted to create a product that was truly innovative and could potentially revolutionize an existing category,” said Vita Coco CEO Mike Kirban said in an e-mail. “We’ve spent the past eight months working closely with Target and the result is a sport drink that we believe tastes better than typical sport drinks and is only made with a few, natural ingredients.”

Kirban noted that Vita Coco Sport “offers Target the ability to segment the sport drink category even further by offering an all natural product that uses 50% coconut water.” The category currently includes a handful of brands that include coconut water as an ingredient, including Body Armor and Greater Than.

Packaged in 18 oz. slim grip PET bottles, the beverages are made with coconut water, filtered water, sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, sea salt, fruit and vegetable juices (for color) and come in five varieties: fruit punch, orange, dragon fruit, lemon lime and black cherry. Each beverage contains 50 calories and 10g of sugar per 8 oz. serving. As for electrolytes, the beverages feature 120mg of sodium and 210mg of potassium in each serving.

While coconut water has long been marketed as an natural alternative to traditional sports drinks, Kirban doesn’t expect to see any cannibalization with its primary line, citing “a core, loyal Vita Coco consumer” buying its products at Target.

“We do however, expect heath-minded mothers looking to give there kids a simpler more natural sport drink to opt for Vita Coco Sport over traditional brands like Gatorade and Powerade,” he said. “I think Sport having fewer, natural ingredients will add to this appeal.”

As for wider distribution of the line, Vita Coco will evaluate the performance of the program at Target before making a decision for a broad rollout, Kirban said.

The line extension is already listed on Target’s website, but only as an in-store offering.