For decades, Gatorade has dominated the market as the preferred drink for sports athletes looking to quench their thirst while performing at the highest possible level. However, in the early aughts, Gatorade lost its way. Vitamin Water had entered the market and was selling a similar product, but to a more casual audience. Rather than continue to market the sports drink to athletes in the way that had been wildly successful, Gatorade completely pivoted, repurposing its product as one for casual consumers looking for something to drink that wasn’t soda, but also wasn’t water.

In taking its eye off its core consumer, Gatorade lost a significant share of the market to its top competitor, Powerade, which remained focused on athletes. While the stories may not be as popular as the Gatorade/Vitamin Water/Powerade debacle of the early 2000s, this same refocusing happens quite often in the alcoholic drinks space.

Take the tequila category for example, which has experienced an influx of brands putting forth premium versions of their existing spirits in an effort to capture an audience already claimed by Don Julio 1942. In doing so, these brands turn their back on their core consumer, developing these products they think their consumers will go for, instead of realizing why their consumers are already there.

There are not many cases of anyone in the drinks industry mimicking a top brand and actually being successful, and when brands mimic one another rather than truly innovating, no one can really win.

On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” Adam, Joanna, and Zach discuss the inherent risks for spirits brands and categories that attempt to chase the current market leaders or position their product in a way that cuts against their established market and reputation. Tune in for more.

Joanna is reading: The Natural Wine Flaw
Zach is reading: How the Honey Deuce Cocktail Conquered the U.S. Open
Adam is reading: Going, Going, Gone: These Collective Spirits Will Be Unicorns Before You Know It

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