Coca-Cola bets on Kobe’s sports drink to win where Powerade has lost

In a continuing effort to dethrone Gatorade, Coca-Cola is buying a sport-drink company called BodyArmor that is co-owned by Kobe Bryant.


August 15, 2018

Coca-Cola just bought the 2nd-largest stake in beverage maker BodyArmor to rehydrate its sports-drinks where Powerade failed to quench consumers’ thirst.

As part of the deal, Coca-Cola will distribute BodyArmor (whose 3rd-largest investor is Kobe Bryant) and eventually have an option to buy the whole company outright.

Coca-Cola’s liquid kryptonite

In the clash for Big Cola’s crown, Coca-Cola still reigns supreme. Coke’s market share rose from 17.3% to 17.8% in the last decade, while Pepsi’s has fallen from 10.3% to 8.4%. 

But rival PepsiCo has one star player: Gatorade. Gatorade dominates the sports drink industry with a roughly 74.7% share of the $8B dollar market. 

Powerade, Coca-Cola’s sorry attempt to replicate the real ’Rade, has just 17.5% market share. Now, Coca-Cola is finally admitting that if Powerade hasn’t posed a threat to Gatorade since its 1988 launch, it never will.

After losing for 30 straight years, Coke is benching Powerade

None of Coca-Cola’s attempts to make Powerade cool worked (remember Powerade Option? Powerade Zero? Neither do we). 

But, Coca-Cola scored in 2007 with the $4.1B acquisition of Glaceau (the maker of Vitaminwater and Smartwater). 

Now, it hopes that a fast-growing brand like BodyArmor (which nearly doubled its sales last year) will give the company momentum to challenge G-rade and appeal to consumers’ new preference for natural ingredients like coconut water.

The electrolyte whisperer thinks he’s got what it takes

BodyArmor’s co-founder, Mike Repole, happens to be the same mineral mastermind behind Glaceau. Now, Repole is confident he can create another sports-drink sensation.

“Gatorade is Blockbuster Video, and BodyArmor is Netflix,” Repole boasted. “If you don’t evolve, you’re not going to be around much longer.”

Bold words coming from a company that has less than 6% market share compared to Gatorade’s 74.7% — but hey, anything tastes better than Powerade, right?

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.