Sports drinks brands should partner with fitness apps like Strava to help offset COVID-19 losses

Strava, a digital fitness and exercise platform, has approximately two million app registrations per month as of 16 December, reflecting a remarkable consumer shift to self-managed digital fitness, and a promising opportunity for the suffering sports drinks market, writes GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “COVID-19 and lockdowns have closed many of the UK’s gyms and indoor sports halls, which has had a severe knock-on effect on sports drinks, reducing consumption and making manufacturers reassess plans for the future. GlobalData’s latest analysis suggests that in the UK in 2020, sports drinks sales will be significantly below the pre-COVID-19 projections for 2020, and even 2019.”

Without regular access to gyms and sports venues, consumers are buying fewer sports drinks, despite many investing in apps and outdoor exercise. According to GlobalData’s most recent consumer survey, 28%* of UK consumers reported that they intended to stop or do less exercise outside the home, and 23%* reported they intended to do the same inside the home.

Whittaker adds: “With these concerning shifts, the demand for sports drinks has shrunk, making it ever-more important that brands find ways to maintain visibility during the pandemic and maintain relevance afterwards. Notably, GlobalData’s market research suggests that 82%*2 of UK consumers are concerned about their fitness and health. The question for brands now is how to engage with these consumers outside of gyms that have been closed during the lockdown, and this is where app partnerships could come in. The goal is to keep engagement going, to maintain relevance.

“Smartphone penetration is high in the country, and fitness apps are exploding in popularity, with international apps such as Strava and Freeletics seeing thousands, if not millions, of new registrations during lockdown periods. Apps provide a way to organize grassroots events like outdoor running, but without physical venues or large crowds in the same space at the same time. During the pandemic, integration with an existing app through sponsorship, or creating branded apps with useful functionality would be an invaluable point of contact with consumers without access to gyms. Apps also provide a platform for organized livestreaming and on-demand workouts create brand engagement and promote consumer health, which is clearly key during the pandemic.”

*GlobalData’s COVID-19 recovery tracker – UK – published December 7 – combined responses: “I intend to spend significantly less time on this than before” “I intend to spend slightly less time on this than before” “I intend to stop spending time on this”

*2 GlobalData’s COVID-19 recovery tracker – UK – published December 7 – combined responses: “extremely concerned” “quite concerned” “slightly concerned”

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