Datamonitor: Sports nutrition marketing

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 24th March 2011

Consumer research group Datamonitor today released a new report on sports nutrition, saying that sports nutrition food and drink brands have the potential for tremendous growth if they can encourage mass consumption by widening the appeal of their products. However, the group says they risk losing their loyal core customer base if they over-market their products.

According to Datamonitor, although sports nutrition brands have already made progress in the mainstream market, there is still room for further growth, as consumers are undeniably becoming more interested in improving their health and fitness.

The company attributes this change to rising global obesity levels, combined with a growing appreciation of the benefits of being physically fit, with 45% of consumers are paying a high amount of attention to their fitness levels.

“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 that they tailor their marketing to specific groups of consumers,” said Datamonitor analyst Joseph Robinson.

“In fact, brands looking to capitalise on the growing market for sports nutrition face disastrous consequences if they lose sight of their core market. Manufacturers face a difficult balancing act to ensure the future growth of sports nutrition products.”

PepsiCo’s Gatorade brand provides a good example of the dangers of attempting to appeal to a wider consumer base too aggressively. The sports energy drink brand launched its “What is G?” marketing campaign in 2009 in an attempt to compete with Powerade’s success among mainstream consumers. 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,” said Robinson.

“One of these is education. 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.

“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 recognise the impact of packaging and the important role that professional accreditation can play.
For sports nutrition brands, gaining professional accreditation is particularly important in ensuring loyalty among more serious segments.”