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Gatorade "Becomes" Vitaminwater

Gatorade
Gatorade

When you are a leader in a certain sector and a competitor is coming after you, what do you do? You're supposed to just continue being who you were before the No. 2 was breathing down your neck. You are not supposed to try to steal market share from your competitor by trying to become them.

Well, the folks at Gatorade—a brand that I love more than

New Gatorage bottle
New Gatorage bottle

any brand in this world—have buckled. And I fear that in the face of pressure they've made a grave mistake.

Here's the new Gatorade bottle for 2009, with the Big G.

I don't mind it. It's something different. What I do mind are the changes in the names:

Gatorade Fierce now equals Bring It
Gatorade X-Factor now equals Be Tough
Gatorade AM is Shine On
Gatorade Rain is No Excuses

That's not it. For the first time ever, they're putting vitamins in the flavors.

I'm staring at a document from the Gatorade Sports Institute in 2004 that says "vitamins provide no energy and vitamin supplements will not enhance athletic performance of individuals already consuming a balanced diet." Gatorade isn't saying it adds energy, but the brand is still putting it in their drink.

Here's what I surmise happened. Market research must have shown that the young kids didn't think that Gatorade was cool anymore and athletes and parents thought that it was nice that their competitor, Coca-Cola's Vitaminwater, had the added value of vitamins. So what did the people at PepsiCo do? They tried to become Vitaminwater.

Vitaminwater's flavors include defense, focus, balance, essential, energy, relaxed, among others. Now the only difference between Gatorade and Vitaminwater is the amount of sodium, which Gatorade has stood by for years. Is that next?

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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