未 How a Scientist Built a $6B Company

How a Scientist Built a $6B Company

100B ounces of Gatorade are sold every year

Thats enough to fill 1,000 Olympic swimming pools!

Impressive, right?

But it wasnt always like this.

Gatorade started as a little science project to help the University of Floridas football team.

Now its the official sports drink for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NASCAR.

How did Gatorade come to dominate the industry, owning 72% of the market share?

Heres what we got for ya:

  • The Original Gator-aid

  • Dominating a $14B industry

  • $6B Marketing Idea

Read Time: 4 min 30 sec

The Original Gator-aid

Its 1965, and a UF football victory seems far out of reach.

The FL heat pounds down on the players as their coach pushes them to run reps over and over again.

But they werent getting better. It seemed hopeless.

Then one day, everything changed.

The players came to the field with renewed energy. They could beat just about any team.

College Football Reaction GIF by SEC Network

Howd they do it?

Turns out the secret to success didnt lie on the field.

One of the most important moments in sports history happened inside a lab.

In the 60s, football players didnt drink while playing.

Coaches thought water made players sluggish.

University researcher Robert Cade had a different idea.

After watching the Florida Gators play, Cade saw it was chemistry, not coaching, that the team needed.

He went back to his lab and started whipping up a potion with electrolytes to hydrate the players.

The UF coach wasnt convinced. He told Cade he could only experiment on the freshmen.

The first batch was just water, fructose, a little bit of sodium citrate, and a dash of monopotassium.

It tasted so strong of urine that the players could barely keep it down.

After adding in some citrus, the first drinkable Gatorade was complete.

The freshmen drank the Gatorade and then played the upperclassmen.

To everyones surprise, they won.

Soon, all the UF players drank Gatorade.

After losing to UF, Georgia Techs coach said, We didnt have Gatorade That made the difference.

And thats how a hopeless team came to dominate football.

How did Gatorade dominate the sports drink industry?

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Dominating a $14B industry

The path to world domination. Or something like that

In the 1990s, the scientists from UF sold Gatorade to Stokely Van Camp, a bean packaging company.

The original Gatorade bottle was actually just a Stokely pork and beans can.

Bean selling expertise didnt transfer well to Gatorade, so they sold it to Quaker Oats who later sold it to PepsiCo.

This is where the real journey begins.

By the late 90s, Gatorade was bringing in $300M in annual sales with a 20% annual growth rate.

Now, Gatorade boasts $6B in annual sales.

Thats 2x more than the closest competitors, Body Armor and Power Ade, combined.

How did Gatorade come to control 72% of the sports drinks market in the USA?

Well, for one, they made a product that actually worked.

But they also constantly change to meet their audiences needs.

The majority of Gatorade sales arent even to athletes.

The drink has 34g of sugar, making it equally addictive to everyone.

Gatorade made 22 different flavors to satisfy all taste buds.

And recently they added new drink products like Gatorade Fit and Gatorade Zero.

They even made a sweat patch that tracks your sweat rate, fluid loss, and sodium loss.

Talk about product diversity

$6B Marketing Idea

Gatorade spends $100M on advertising every year.

And it pays off.

Gatorade makes $6B in sales each year.

Their two most successful marketing strategies?

Celebrity endorsement and athlete diversity.

#1- Celebrity endorsement

In 1991, Gatorade made an investment that would change the company forever.

They signed a $13.5M endorsement deal with Michael Jordan.

The Be Like Mike ad from 1992 became one of the most popular ads of all time.

It told viewers that if they drank Gatorade, they could be like MJ: a good player and powerful person.

Now Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Dwight Howard, and Derek Jeter all endorse Gatorade.

The #1 athletes must be drinking the #1 drink.

#2- Show athlete diversity.

From yogis to skateboarders, dancers to volleyball players.

And 6-pack players to active curvy women.

Their products are for everyone.

Why does this matter?

People are more likely to buy a product if they see themselves on the screen.

Gatorade ads use the Halo Effect.

Theyll show you something you like (Michael Jordan) and make you associate it with their product.

If a consumer sees an athlete drinking Gatorade, when they think of Gatorade, they will think athletic.

And if they want to be athletic, they will drink Gatorade.

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