BodyArmor is the Sports Drink That Could Change Everything

Could the Gatorade monster be taken down by a start-up sports drink you’ve never heard of?

The year is 2025.

LeBron Jr. is headlining the slam dunk contest. Tom Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl MVP. Bryce Harper has narrowed his free agency decision to two teams. And Gatorade has gone the way of Sprite Remix and Surge. Just another sugary drink lost to the annals of history.

Why, you ask?

Because the upstart number three sports drink in the United States, BodyArmor, is plotting a complete takeover by 2025. Its crusade is a bet on a healthier America, but it’s relying on some help from a soft drink giant to do it.

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While that may sound like an unlikely scenario on the surface, don’t tell BodyArmor. It might take several years to vault over its well-established competitors, but in the meantime BodyArmor will strive to carve out a major market share while battling health conditions like obesity and dehydration.

Gatorade, after all, is a household name. And while its sales have long more than doubled that of its closest competitor, Powerade, the duo has crushed all comers since the dawn of the sports drink. Gatorade is owned by Pepsi, Powerade by Coca-Cola. Together, the power duo absorbs more than 90 percent of the sports drink market. But that number has slipped from 97 percent in 2015, in large part thanks to the emergence of BodyArmor.

Perhaps it would be more fun if this was a war being waged solely among the little guys — BioSteel, a Canadian startup in the vein of BodyArmor in terms of ingredients and makeup, is now being sold in the U.S. — but Coca-Cola has thrown its sizeable weight behind BodyArmor, and it sure appears that it will finally give Gatorade the challenger it has avoided for many decades.

BodyArmor is banking on one key fact: sports drinks have a genuinely positive impact on dehydration, but the power players in this space are doing so at the expense of rising obesity. When’s the last time you looked at the nutrition label on your sports drink? Believe it or not, a standard serving of Gatorade or Powerade is just shy of a typical can of soda on both calories and sugar, and many of us guzzle a 32-ounce bottle without realizing we just downed four servings of sugary drink.

That’s why it’s so vital to BodyArmor’s cause that it differentiate itself from the sugary “sports” drinks it’s trying to overtake. And that’s exactly what it’s set out to do.

BodyArmor’s health quest

BodyArmor has only been around since 2011, but in sports drink terms, lasting seven years in a Gatorade-dominated climate is not only significant but also historic. According to Mike Repole, one of BodyArmor’s founders, it is the only startup to last for more than four years in the boxing ring that is the sports drink market.

BodyArmor has survived and flourished by taking a new approach to chipping away at the goliaths of the sports drink industry. While Gatorade relies primarily on nostalgia and its massive Pepsi family distribution and Powerade has seemed content to languish as the clear number two in the market, BodyArmor offers something different.

While obesity rises in the United States, the fitness industry has ballooned to $30 billion dollars and is growing by three to four percent annually. Sports drinks are a huge part of that, and fitness wonks have taken note when it comes to the sugary and high-caloric nature of Gatorade and friends. Between the fight against obesity and the ever-vigilant fitness buffs, there is a robust market for a more healthy sports drink.

BodyArmor is here to save the day.

While Gatorade lists zero vitamins on its nutrition label alongside 250 mg of sodium and 65 mg of potassium, BodyArmor clocks in at just 15 mg of sodium with a full 300mg of potassium. That’s six percent the sodium and more than 4.5 times the potassium content. And don’t forget the five vitamins and several minerals, all elements the big boys don’t include. That’s the knockout punch BodyArmor is packing.

The business strategy

John Sicher of Beverage Digest told Fortune that “Competing against Gatorade would require deep pockets, brilliant branding, and lots of patience, and the likelihood of success even then is questionable.” BodyArmor faces a steep climb, but it’s gone about its ramp-up in a smart way.

Back in 2015, BodyArmor made up less than one percent of the sports drink market. Now, that number is five percent, and after Coca-Cola signed on as a minority owner in August 2018, that number is expected to continue to rise.

Wait, what?

That’s right — the exact same Coca-Cola that owns Powerade and its not-insignificant 20 percent share of the sports drink market. The strategy here is clear: offer a higher-end, ultra-healthy product that will be accepted by the fitness crowd, while maintaining some appeal to the casual fan to chip away at Gatorade from both sides.

BodyArmor is doing it through partnerships with star athletes like Kobe Bryant, Andrew Luck, Mike Trout, and Rob Gronkowski. It’s notable that these are partnerships, by the way, and not endorsements; each of these athletes has bought equity in BodyArmor and is involved in more than just an endorsement level. These guys aren’t just getting paid to do a commercial — they actually use the product. Trout’s even introduced the start-up to his team. BodyArmor has been the official sports drink of the Los Angeles Angels for going on four years.

Those athlete relationships will mean more to the more casual crowd than the hardcore fitness crew. That should give BodyArmor some play in casual portion of the market and, combined with the lower-priced Powerade, Coca-Cola is sandwiching PepsiCo’s Gatorade.

But Coca-Cola’s long-term play is centered around growing BodyArmor. If you haven’t seen much from BodyArmor yet, that’s about to change. Come March, all March Madness signage previously branded with Powerade will be emblazoned with BodyArmor. That sponsorship was part of a larger 11-year Coca-Cola deal with the NCAA, and it’s telling that the soft drink giant was completely on-board subbing in a product in which it only has a 15 percent ownership stake. Clearly, Coca-Cola shares the same vision as the founders of Body Armor and believes that this healthy, athlete-backed drink is the way to take down the Gatorade giant.

Gatorade is Blockbuster, BodyArmor is Netflix

BodyArmor ain’t messing around. Says Repole, “Gatorade is Blockbuster Video, and BodyArmor is Netflix. If you don’t evolve, you’re not going to be around much longer.” It’s a bold, brash statement, but that’s a snapshot of the mindset of Repole and his team.

They’re the old guard. We’re the fresh, exciting, healthy, natural option.

It’s a compelling pitch, and painting the other guys as the Blockbuster of the industry is effective imagery. The strategy has clearly worked so far. The mobilizing of Coca-Cola’s arsenal during March Madness is the first obvious sign of that partnership, which also includes an option for the soft drink giant to become a majority owner over the next few years. Coca-Cola calls this a “strategic relationship,” and its President recognizes BodyArmor as one of the fastest growing beverage trademarks on the market. When a brand like Coca-Cola has a vested interest in your success, you’re playing on the right team.

So perhaps you’re revisiting your browser’s bookmark of this page in a decade — or maybe even sooner, if Repole is to be believed. Enjoy a refreshing Orange Mango BodyArmor while you’re here, and take a moment to relive the nostalgia of a turn-of-the-century Gatorade commercial starring Michael Jordan.

Because in 2025, it’s BodyArmor’s tune we’re humming, and it’s all thanks to Mike Repole and his team.

♫ Like Mike… if I could be like Mike ♫

R.I.P., Gatorade.

Ben Beecken
Ben Beecken
Ben Beecken is a writer at Grandstand Central with a primary focus on the NBA, MLB, and NFL. He has spent nearly a decade working on the business side of sports including eight seasons in minor league baseball team front offices. Ben is also an editor and writer at Dunking With Wolves and a contributor across the FanSided network.


  1. I love the body armor drinks but they’re soo expensive and I can’t find it in BJs wholesaled club. I have 5 teens that are into sports and this drink is excellent but the price, not soo much

  2. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

    • Generally slightly less per serving, although BodyArmor’s serving recommendations are less than Gatorade’s. It isn’t a ton less, but BodyArmor uses pure cane sugar while Gatorade only recently switched away from high-fructose corn syrup and still isn’t on par with BodyArmor in terms of natural ingredients.

  3. Hello ,

    I saw your tweets and thought I will check your website. Have to say it looks really nice!
    I’m also interested in this topic + have recently started my journey as young entrepreneur.

    I’m also looking for the ways on how to promote my website. I have tried AdSense and Facebok Ads, however it is getting very expensive. Was thinking about starting using analytics. Do you recommend it?
    Can you recommend something what works best for you?

    I also want to improve SEO of my website. Would appreciate, if you can have a quick look at my website and give me an advice what I should improve:
    (Recently I have added a new page about Rockwall Investments and the way how normal people can make money with this company.)

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. 🙂

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Maybe I will add link to your website on my website and you will add link to my website on your website? It will improve SEO of our websites, right? What do you think?

    Jan Zac


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