Review: Is There Room for Nooma In Sports Drinks?
Covers Products: Blueberry Peach, Cherry Lime, Chocolate Mint, Mango
Nooma is a new entry into the sports hydration category. Its key selling points are its coconut water-based formulation and its low calorie content.
On the surface, the products seem to do what many other coconut water based sports drinks have attempted to do: straddle the sports drink category without actually calling the product a sports drink. Instead the product refers to itself as an “organic electrolyte drink” on the front of the package, while the back of the package and the company’s web site refer to it as a hydration or rehydration product. In the end, we’d still view it as a sports drink, both in terms of how the consumer will view it and where it’s likely to be merchandised at the retail level.
It should stand out though: the design of the packaging, which is a 16.9 oz Tetra Pak carton with a resealable cap, has a technical look that doesn’t feel overly mainstream. If that’s what they are going for, that’s fine, although it does seem like a somewhat exclusionary approach that isn’t necessary given what’s actually inside the carton. Regardless, we’d suggest cleaning up the front panel of the package a bit as it feels really busy.
Moving on to the actual liquid, the product comes in four flavors: Blueberry Peach, Cherry Lime, Mango, and Chocolate Mint. While some of the flavors are better than the others, they all need refinement, most notably with how candy-like the flavorings taste and the highly detectable flavor of the stevia. The Chocolate Mint variety feels like it needs the most work and might be one that isn’t a fit for the line. Specifically, it tastes like something that’s better suited for a dairy (or dairy alternative) based protein drink than an electrolyte product. But with all of the flavors, which are labeled “Organically Flavored,” we feel as though the flavorings need to be a lot more accurate than they currently are.
Nutritionally, each of these products has 20 calories per carton and only 3g of sugar (presumably from the added coconut water, which makes up 21 percent of the drink). The formulation is otherwise quite simple, with water, flavorings, stevia, and sea salt rounding things out. The functionality of the product, which is hydration from electrolytes, doesn’t seem better than that of straight coconut water (although it is lower in calories). We think that this is something that will be a challenge for Nooma, especially since being open to coconut water is a prerequisite to consuming it.In the end, we feel as though they have the start of an idea, but it’s one that needs to evolve a bit further. Being low-calorie is a great starting point and being USDA Organic is great as far as the sports drink category goes, but without packaging and flavor refinements we feel as though this product’s niche will be too limited.