Capri Sun eyes isotonics

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Kraft Foods aims to create a kids segment in the growing sports drink arena this spring with Capri Sun Sport, a new line of isotonic drinks.

Although PepsiCo's $800 million gorilla, Gatorade, has been able to fend off a variety of would-be competitors in the $1 billion category, Kraft believes that its nearly $400 million Capri Sun franchise will be able to hold its own, and build a whole new segment for tweens and teens.

"We see ourselves as out in front of an evolving opportunity area rather than trying to play a share game in an existing area," said Bob Levi, Kraft's VP-beverages strategy.

Gatorade, however, may have gotten wind of Kraft's plans, or just realized the opportunities afforded among the younger set, as it launched its own kid-targeted lineup, Gatorade All Stars, earlier this fall (AA, June 24). Without marketing support, as the brand was launched midseason, All Stars grew to $8 million in sales through Nov. 3. Mom-targeted ads for All Stars are set to debut this spring from Omnicom Group's Element 79 Partners, Chicago.

It is no surprise that Kraft-having grown its own $500 million juice drink pouch business double digits over the last year-sees additional growth opportunity in sports drinks. The category is "showing phenomenal growth, up 14.5% for the first nine months of the year," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. But, he said, while "Kraft is a fine company, and Capri Sun is a good brand, competing with Gatorade will be daunting for anyone."

Nestle has certainly shied away from the battle, deciding to pull its kids' sports drink, Juicy Juice Score!, which it tested in Southeast markets. But retailers certainly feel that Capri Sun, with its virtual ownership of the kids' beverage segment, stands a much greater chance at success.

Kraft declined to comment on its marketing plans, including whether it will shelve the new products next to current Capri Sun offerings or in the isotonic segment near Gatorade. Mr. Levi did say, however, that the extension into isotonics fits the Capri Sun trademark, which is positioned as a beverage for active, outdoorsy, on-the-go kids.

However, part of the appeal of Gatorade and Coca-Cola Co.'s Powerade for kids is that they are the drinks of choice for grown-ups and big-name athletes, Mr. Sicher said.

The current tagline for Capri Sun advertising, handled by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, is "Liquid cool." Capri Sun spent $20 million on measured media from January through August, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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