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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sports Drinks Are from Mars, Nutrition Bars Are from Venus

The market for sports nutritionals—which includes sports drinks and nutrition bars as well as product categories such as protein and weight gain powders, and pre- and post-workout supplements and energy gels—has experienced encouraging growth in recent years.  Factors contributing to future growth in the sports drink and nutrition bar categories include a rapid increase in the number of dedicated fitness enthusiasts and the bullish growth plans of specialized retailers of sports nutritionals, while nutrition bars will benefit from a long-term trend toward healthier snacking.

The 77 million users of sports drinks and 28 million consumers of nutrition bars are key consumer segments driving the sports nutritional market as a whole.  However, the demographic and attitudinal differences between the users of each of these products are so vast that they might as well live on two different planets.

As reported in Packaged Facts July 2013 edition of The Market for Sports Nutritionals in the U.S., compared to high-volume consumers of sports drinks, nutrition bar aficionados are less likely to be members of Gen-Y and more likely to be Boomers.  They also have a higher likelihood of being married, living in one of the largest urban areas, having a college degree and enjoying a household income of $100,000 or more. The most remarkable difference between the two market segments, though, is the yawning gender gap that divides sports drink users from nutrition bar consumers.

Men, especially young men, dominate in the sports drink market.  Males make up 64% of high-volume consumers of sports drinks.  Men in the 18- to 34-old age group make up 15% of the population but account for 31% of high-volume sports drink consumers. 

In the market for nutrition bars, however, is primarily a women’s world.  Only 45% of those eating at least one nutrition bar in the last 30 days are men, while 55% are women.  Female consumers of nutrition bars outnumber their male counterparts 15.2 million to 12.4 million. 

Marketers of sports drinks need to face up to some dismal demographic news over the next decade that should lead them in the direction of paying more attention to women.  The population of males under the age of 25, their most prized marketing target, will experience negative population growth between 2011 and 2020, declining from 24.5 million to slightly less than 24 million.  Besides, although not the dominant consumer segment, women are important to sports drink marketers even now.  More than 30 million women are active users and 13.3 million women are high-volume users of sports drinks. 

Some sports nutritional marketers have already capitalized on the power of women.  For example, Simmons National Consumer Study data show that women account for 77% of those consuming a Clif Luna bar in the last 30 days; nearly one in three (30%) are 35- to 44-year-old women.  Other marketers are beginning to recognize that sports nutritional products geared toward women offer growing opportunities.  Barre, which claims to be made with “real ingredients for real athletes,” is a nutrition bar designed by two professional dancers especially for women.   On their website they write that “just reading the labels on most energy bars is enough to throw us off balance.  So we traded our leotards for aprons and whipped up something of our own:  a real food bar, made with wholesome, all-natural ingredients—stuff you can actually pronounce!”

Marketers also are responding with new products to meet a growing interest by women in whey protein, a natural supplement increasingly popular among bodybuilders.  Examples include Designer Whey Protein for Her, which is marketed as “a high-quality nourishment designed for women who want the best of both worlds:  a delicious supplement that helps support their fitness goals.”

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