Amid torrid growth in sales of its naturally formulated sports drinks, BodyArmor unveiled a slew of new products at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show, held last month in Atlanta. The brand extensions, which include a new two-SKU line of low-calorie drinks dubbed BodyArmor “Lyte” and a line of electrolyte-infused bottled waters, were introduced as retail sales of BodyArmor continue to surge. According to market research firm IRI, brand sales reached nearly $81 million in the 52-week period ending on Sept. 9, up 157.6 percent from the same period a year prior.
Speaking with BevNET, BodyArmor co-founder and chairman Mike Repole touted Lyte, a line of low-calorie, naturally sweetened sports drinks, as a first of its kind. Available in Cherry Berry and Peach Mango varieties, the beverages are sweetened with stevia and erythritol and contain three grams of sugar and 20 calories per 8 oz. serving. Repole said that the drinks contain the same the functional benefits as BodyArmor’s core line.
Lyte arrives amid a decline in sales of low-calorie sports drinks, according to Repole. He pointed to growing consumer disdain for artificial ingredients, present in many such sports drinks, as the cause for sliding sales.
Repole views Lyte as a product line that will resonate with adult consumers aged 30-50, particularly active females and “weekend warriors.” He also sees Lyte, as well as BodyArmor’s core line, as attracting greater demand from younger athletes who tilt toward naturally formulated beverages.
“There’s no reason the sports drinks that I drank when I was 15 should be the same ones that kind 15-year-olds today are drinking,” he noted.
Lyte will launch in January with distribution focused on mass and conventional grocery retailers, beginning with Target and Kroger.
Meanwhile, BodyArmor is preparing to launch a new brand extension called “SuperWater.” A line of electrolyte-infused bottled waters, BodyArmor SuperWater was developed with input from the brand’s professional athlete investors/endorsers, including former NBA star Kobe Bryant and MLB’s Mike Trout. Repole said that the new products fill a need for serious athletes who often hydrate with both water and sports drinks.
SuperWater comes in three package formats: a 23.7 oz. bottle topped with a sports cap, a 1 L bottle and a 20 oz. bottle, each designed with a wide mouth opening. Repole noted that the larger mouth bottles allow athletes to consume water faster and hydrate more quickly.
“There’s never been a sports water brand,” he said. “It’s a game-changer for athletes.”
Although Dr Pepper Snapple Group distributes BodyArmor across the U.S. and is a minority investor in the brand, SuperWater may launch via the brand’s network of independent DSD distributor partners, Repole said. He noted that the new water line is being reviewed by regional distributors, including Polar Beverages in the Northeast, Big Geyser (which manages BodyArmor’s core line) in metro New York, and Kalil in the Southwest, among others.
BodyArmor also debuted a new 28 oz. bottle for four of the top-selling varieties in its flagship line. The larger bottles are intended to help BodyArmor build market share in convenience stores; Repole stated that 77 percent of all C-store sales of sports drinks are of 28 oz. bottles and that large format bottles represent 55 percent of sales in the sports drink category. BodyArmor’s Strawberry Banana, Fruit Punch, Blackout Berry and Orange Mango varieties will be available in the 28 oz. bottle, which will retail for $1.99 in grocery and mass retailers and $2.69 in the drug and convenience channel.
BodyArmor also added Watermelon Strawberry and Lemonade varieties to its core line. Combined with Lyte and the new 28 oz. bottles, BodyArmor will market 16 sports drink SKUs next year. The additional products will better position the brand to build upon its share of the sports drink category, which now sits at 2 percent, according to Repole. He’s aiming to reach a 10 percent share within three years, a massive goal considering the clout of category leaders Gatorade and Powerade. Nevertheless, Repole believes that it’s an achievable goal.
“Getting to 1 percent [market share] is 10 times harder than getting to 10 percent,” he said.
Achieving a 10 share will require sustained and significant investment in sales and marketing, and Repole, a co-founder of vitaminwater, is ready to spend a big chunk of his own wealth in an effort to reach the milestone.
“I’ve already spent $50 million and willing to spend another $150 million,” he said.