Gatorade debuts Fast Twitch, the 'go-to energy drink option designed for athletes'
The formulation is uncarbonated and packaged in a 16-ounce resealable bottle making it a convenient workout beverage for athletes and active consumers.
NFL teams will get exclusive first access to the athletic energy drink brand during the 2022-2023 season with a broader retail rollout to come in early February 2023 where it will be merchandised in the energy drink aisle (as opposed to the isotonic sports drinks aisle), said Gatorade.
“Everything about Fast Twitch was designed with athletes at the center. From the grippable, resealable bottle designed for convenience on-the-go, to the non-carbonated formula, to the powerful, energetic, and athletic design, to the brand name,” Marissa Pines, senior director of marketing, Gatorade Performance Nutrition, told FoodNavigator-USA, who added that the product’s formulation and ingredients are NSF Certified for Sport and backed by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute where it was developed.
“Gatorade is the leader in sports fuel and has a deep understanding of the unique occasions and needs across athletic activity. What we know is that caffeine helps ignite power and athletic performance, but there hasn’t been a go-to energy drink option designed for athletes.
“Fast Twitch addresses the key barriers described by the 32 million athletes who reject energy drinks. Creating this brand-new athletic energy space backed by Gatorade’s 57-year history with athletes will completely disrupt the energy category,” added Pines.
Caffeine, key to athletic performance?
At 200g of caffeine per bottle, Fast Twitch is higher in caffeine content than conventional energy drink brands, Monster and Red Bull, but sits in the same range as more direct market competitors C4, Cellucor, and GHOST.
“Caffeine is one of the most well-researched ingredients in the context of sport & fitness performance, with overwhelming research citing improved performance measures as a result of caffeine consumption,” said Pines.
“Whether it’s an endurance workout, a sport filled with stops and starts, or high-intensity exercise, athletes can benefit from caffeine. Drinking caffeine prior to a workout has been shown to have several benefits, including reducing perceived effort, delaying fatigue and improving performance, and even speeding up post-workout recovery.”
Portfolio fit and strategy
So what’s the long-term game plan for Gatorade and its parent company PepsiCo, which has been acquiring, investing, and launching energy drinks brands (Rockstar Energy, Celsius, Mtn Dew Game Fuel) over the past few years?
According to Joshua Schall, owner and president of J. Schall Consulting, Gatorade has been exploring this concept of building a portfolio around different “fuel sources” and as a result has launched several brands and offshoots including ‘rapid rehydration’ product line Gatorlyte (launched in 2021) and no-sugar-added G Fit (launched in 2022).
Now Gatorade’s focus seems to be in the caffeinated pre-workout beverages segment, an area it attempted to capture with now-discontinued Bolt24 Energize, a caffeinated sports drink, noted Schall.
“I think they were expecting it [Bolt24 Energize] to be like Propel, but for whatever reason it didn’t hit well,” Schall told FoodNavigator-USA.
As a product that sits between a sports drink and energy drink, Fast Twitch is targeting a very specific and underserved usage occasion of a pre-workout energy with a focus towards highly-trained and skilled athletes.
“There's a subset of consumers that are looking for a non-carbonated pre-workout energy drink, and this fills that gap,” Schall said, noting that the lack of non-carbonated options in the category has been a pain point for consumers (carbonated beverages aren’t the best choice before a grueling workout and powder mixes create more friction from a user experience standpoint).
And while there are a few non-carbonated pre-workout beverage options on the market, they’re not widely available.
“There hasn't been a [pre-work energy] product or brand positioned in the mainstream yet,” said Schall.
Sports industry professionals may be familiar with the Fast Twitch name and concept as it was a long-time ready-to-mix powder and RTD produce under CytoSport, Inc. (makers of Muscle Milk) that PepsiCo acquired in 2019, shared Schall in a LinkedIn post.
Gatorade currently sells Fast Twitch pre-workout mixes on its site.
'To expect this to become the next $1bn energy drink brand would be absurd'
But while Gatorade is preparing for a broad rollout of Fast Twitch, the product won’t likely attract a general consumer audience or the typical energy drink consumer, he added.
“To expect this to become the next $1bn energy drink brand would be absurd,” he said.
“It’s very much going to be attached to a specific usage occasion and not an everyday consumption behavior. This is falling more in line with the sports and active nutrition segment than the general beverage category.”