Gatorade Grapples With Keeping New Team Together at Retail

Marketer Contemplates Education Efforts as Retailers Scatter Prime, Perform and Recover Around Their Stores

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With its repositioning, Gatorade moved from mere hydration system to a sports-nutrition brand, there for athletes and fitness buffs from warm-up to finish line. But the effort has encountered a few hurdles as retailers are busting up the team.

Retailers know where to put
Retailers know where to put "Perform," but other G Series products are ending up in a food aisles or at the checkout.

Each of the brand's platforms -- G Series, G Series Fit and G Series Pro -- has a range of products branded as 01 Prime, 02 Perform and 03 Recover. Each platform includes multiple products and flavors, with three products for G Series Fit and a dozen for G Series Pro.

Ideally, the full range of products for each of those platforms will be merchandised together, so consumers catch on to the idea that Gatorade meets needs before, during and after exercise. But anecdotal evidence indicates that 's not the norm, with many retailers merchandising the products separately, in areas ranging from beverage coolers and food aisles to the checkout counter.

"We can't change the entire retail landscape overnight," said Andrea Fairchild, VP-brand marketing at Gatorade. "We're focused on where we can make an impact. We'll be as consistent as we can and make sure we're putting our funds and focus on locations that can tell the story."

Gatorade is exploring a number of concepts for how it could better educate retailers and ultimately win consumers at the point of sale. One concept would involve creating a team of Gatorade employees charged with visiting retailers and explaining products and product benefits, much like Nike does with its Ekin (that 's Nike spelled backward) program.

"We know that successful athletic-performance companies have the ability to go in and educate consumers, retailers, store owners about what their products are all about," said Ms. Fairchild, who spent a decade at Nike before joining Gatorade in January 2010. "We're creating a lot of new products in the marketplace, and we know education will be key."

When it comes to negotiating new merchandising arrangements, Bill Schober, editorial director at the In-Store Marketing Institute, said Gatorade's conversations with retailers are likely to center on whether its consumer profile meshes with the retailer's, its ability to maintain and keep stocked any dedicated display, meeting the store's requirements for ceiling and aisle restrictions, and, of course, money. Stores are also likely to weigh how unique the proposition is and whether it could set them apart from competitors.

Expect to see more elaborate Gatorade merchandising at your local retailers.
Expect to see more elaborate Gatorade merchandising at your local retailers.

"More and more retailers want exclusives on products," Mr. Schober said. "And the PepsiCo shopper marketing people are increasingly smart about understanding that they have to drill into each specific retail chain's shopper mindset."

In certain cases, the brand will be investing in dedicated retail displays. Earlier this year, Gatorade worked with Walgreen's to create an end cap display for the launch of its G Fit line. The display included each of the G Fit products, as well as signage detailing each product and how it complements other products in the line. A screen showed videos of workouts.

"You're not going to see that execution everywhere," Ms. Fairchild said. "It is expensive to do. But where we align best with the target , we are going to place big bets against certain retail channels or retailers that can elevate the story."

To determine where it should be placing those "big bets," Ms. Fairchild said Gatorade is taking a "surgical" approach to mapping the marketplace, in order to determine "points of sweat." A 7-Eleven next to a gym or high school playing field would be an important outlet, for example, while a 7-Eleven off of the highway would not.

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