When Mike Repole created BodyArmor in 2011, he had his sights set on surpassing Gatorade as the top-selling sports drink by 2025. People laughed at the lofty goal as the unknown better-for-you sports drink began an uphill battle against the Gatorade Goliath, which has dominated the market since the 1960s.
Today, BodyArmor is closer to Gatorade than it’s ever been, and is taking major strides toward making Repole’s dream a reality by partnering with Christian McCaffrey, Trae Young, Sabrina Ionescu, CeeDee Lamb, Kemba Walker, Drew Lock and Ronald Acuña Jr.
All seven athletes have equity in the company as well.
“For me it was a really easy deal because I’ve been drinking BodyArmor forever and I’m very passionate about what I put into my body and making sure it’s going to fuel me so I can play the best on Sundays,” said McCaffrey, who signed a four-year, $64-million contract in April making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. “I really researched what’s in the product and BodyArmor is a better-for-you sports drink. I wanted to do a deal in the sports drink world.
“It’s something I’m passionate about. I like endorsing things I’m passionate about and that I care about. When you look at other athletes BodyArmor works with, it speaks for itself. I think it’s the best sports drink on the market.”
Three years into its existence, BodyArmor had just a 0.2% market share, which has grown to 10.3% by 2019 thanks in large part to its partnerships with athletes including Mike Trout, James Harden, Naomi Osaka, Dustin Johnson and Megan Rapinoe, as well as becoming the official sports drink of the NCAA (including March Madness), MLS and UFC.
BodyArmor, which eclipsed $400 million in sales in 2018, is over $900 million in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, and is expected to surpass $1 billion in sales this year, according to Repole.
“Athletes are making choices that work for them,” Repole said. “They care about what they put in their body and they’re reading labels like they’ve never read before. Being an athlete now is not just seasonal. Whether it’s food or beverage, athletes are taking nutrition a lot more serious than ever before and BodyArmor really checks all the boxes for them.”
Featuring coconut water, electrolytes, and natural sweeteners and flavors, BodyArmor is billed as a “premium better-for-you sports drink.” In 2017, the company introduced BodyArmor Lyte, which is only 20 calories and has two grams of sugar per bottle, as well as BodyArmor SportWater, which features a performance pH 9+ and electrolytes.
BodyArmor recently surpassed Powerade as the No. 2 sports drink in sales, with a 72.6% change compared to the prior year, while Powerade Ion4 saw a -23.3% decrease. While BodyArmor is climbing the charts, Gatorade still reigns supreme, controlling nearly 70% of market share as of the end of 2019.
For Young, the 21-year-old face of the Atlanta Hawks, he saw a lot of similarities between his rise to stardom in the NBA and BodyArmor’s in the sports drink category.
“I want to align myself with a brand that reflects me,” Young said. “With being an up-and-coming player in the league and wanting to be a star, I see the same thing with BodyArmor wanting to be the best sports drink in the world. … I’m excited about what we have going forward.”
Repole is just as excited. The co-founder of Glaceau (which sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007) believes as sports, training and nutrition evolve, an athlete’s mindset will change as well, favoring the more nutritious BodyArmor compared to another product.
“Athletes are connecting with it in a big way,” Repole said. “And we’re excited about where the company is going and where we can go.
“Gatorade is well aware of who we are.”