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    Gatorade Taps Bottled Water Category

    Propel brand to begin national roll out in January.

    CHICAGO -- Following successful test-market runs in the Southwest and Florida during 2001, Gatorade in January will begin the national launch of its new Propel Fitness Water brand.

    The company hopes to leverage its position as creator and category leader of the sports beverage segment to win share in the burgeoning but crowded bottled water market, which grew 24 percent across all channels last year.

    Gatorade, a unit of Chicago-based Quaker Oats Co., claims that the product is "designed to provide active consumers and fitness enthusiasts with a better hydration alternative to plain water."

    Research indicates that exercisers generally drink more water when it is lightly flavored, and Gatorade plans to differentiate the Propel brand from other bottled waters with the addition of vitamins and four natural flavors, including black cherry, lemon, orange and berry.

    Although the Gatorade brand has long touted itself as a hydration solution for athletes, its appeal continues to spread to other demographics. Propel, presumably targeted at exercisers who prefer water when working out, will likely follow a similar trend. The drink?s low calorie content -- 10 per eight-ounce serving -- will appeal to dieters and customers searching for non-carbonated alternatives.

    Other companies have marketed similar products with good results. Veryfine was an early innovator with its Fruit20 line of lightly flavored waters with herbs and vitamins, while Energy Brands has managed to blend the bottled water and new age categories with its Glaceau Vitaminwater line.

    Although dates are not yet set, Gatorade has announced plans to promote Propel with national television and print advertising campaigns.

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