Sports Drinks' Back-to-School Boost

Two beverage types that see an increase in sales this time of year

NEW YORK -- The annual return of students to schools and those schools' jocks to athletic fields means a run on energy drinks and bottled water, according to a new Nielsen report comparing sales in late summer to average for the full year.

Sports drinks saw a "sizable jump" in unit sales during the five-week period of Aug. 13 through Sept. 10, 2016, up 35% over an average week of the year, Nielsen reported. Bottled-water unit sales were up 12% during the same period. (See related chart below.)

Further data shows which attributes of sports drinks are most likely to draw consumers during the run up to the school season.

"Consumers spend 37% more on sports drinks that are free of artificial sweeteners and 19% more on those free of sugar in the five weeks surrounding the first days of school across the country," the report says. "Sports drinks with antioxidant properties (29%), low in sodium (29%), and free from artificial colors (25%) also benefit from the back-to-school period with higher weekly sales." (See related infographic below.)

Based on the conclusions, Nielsen researchers concluded, "Retailers and manufacturers looking to bolster sales in the sports drinks category may want to focus on driving awareness of healthful-ingredient attributes parents may not be aware of."

As this year's back-to-school season heats up and parents look for both healthy and convenient items to pack in school lunchboxes, "retailers and manufacturers can help by reminding consumers of both the health benefits and convenience factors of both perimeter and center of store products," said New York-based Nielsen.


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