Sports exclusive: Coca-Cola China banks on e-commerce to market BodyArmor exclusively on Tmall

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola China is banking on the popularity of digital e-commerce in the country to introduce its second local sports drink BodyArmor to consumers via its Tmall store, along with other products only found in other global markets thus far. ©BodyArmor
Coca-Cola China is banking on the popularity of digital e-commerce in the country to introduce its second local sports drink BodyArmor to consumers via its Tmall store, along with other products only found in other global markets thus far. ©BodyArmor

Related tags: Coca-cola, Sports drink, China

Coca-Cola China is banking on the popularity of digital e-commerce in the country to introduce its second local sports drink BodyArmor to consumers via its Tmall store, along with other products only found in other global markets thus far.

Coca-Cola purchased a minority stake in BodyArmor in August last year. Financial details were not publicly released, but BodyArmor falls under the bigger brand’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) investment portfolio.

In China, BodyArmor is currently only available as an imported product exclusively found on the Coca-Cola Tmall store.

“We are taking advantage of China’s digital eco-system and a range of e-commerce platforms to expand our touch points with consumers,” ​Coca-Cola Asia Pacific Leads Communications, Sustainability and Public Affairs Matt Echols told FoodNavigator-Asia and NutraIngredients-Asia​.

“We can see a growing number of Chinese consumers are evolving to seek innovative and premium products, [so] we continue to introduce exciting products from other markets around the world through our China e-commerce platforms.”

The idea here is to leverage on these platforms not only to better connect with consumers in the country, but also gather more data in hopes of customising future offerings according to what they want.

“Besides catering to Chinese consumers’ diverse demands for premium products and well-being, [this retail via our Tmall store] also enables us to study Chinese consumer’s preferences, collect real-time feedbacks on our products and personalise our offerings,”​ said Echols.

BodyArmor’s pricing also reflects its premium slant. According to Echols, at present it is ‘exclusively sold in Coca-Cola Tmall store at retail prices of RMB108 (US$15.30) for a pack of 6 bottles and RMB216 (US$30.60) for 12 bottles’​.

This brings the price to about RMB18 (US$2.55) per bottle, which is about three times the price of other sports drinks in the country, as per Beijing Business Today​. This is also a promotional offer, which means the price is likely to go even higher after the promotional period ends.

More on BodyArmor

BodyArmor falls under the premium and wellbeing category because of its ingredients, which it claims to provide ‘superior hydration’​.

According to the firm’s website, its products contain electrolytes, coconut water, vitamins A, C, E + B, and is ‘low in sodium’​, ‘high in potassium’​ and ‘contains natural flavours, sweeteners and no colours from artificial sources’​. 

“Most traditional sports drinks use sodium as their key electrolyte [but too] much sodium can cause high blood pressure and potassium helps to lower blood pressure. [It is also] critical in the hydration process by preventing cramping,”​ it said.

The regular variant comes in 11 flavours including interesting combinations such as Pineapple Coconut and Strawberry Banana, and claims to contain ‘more natural ingredients than Gatorade Thirst Quencher and Gatorade Zero’​.

The company also has BodyArmor Lyte which comes in five flavours and only contains 20 calories per serving as opposed to the regular 70 calories in the regular variants, using stevia to replace some of the pure cane sugar.

There is also BodyArmor Sportwater, which is basically reverse osmosis water enriched with ‘electrolytes for sport’​ – according to the product ingredients list, these are potassium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride.

At present, only the regular variant of BodyArmor has been seen on the Tmall store.

Coca-Cola in China

BodyArmor is Coca-Cola’s second sports drink launch in the country after Powerade earlier this year, and is an example of how it is trying to introduce products previously only available in other parts of the world via e-commerce.

“We [have] brought BodyArmor Sports Drink, along with others such as Zico Coconut Water, Ayataka Tea and many limited editions of Coke [from other markets around the world] to our Tmall store,”​ said Echols.

For example, Ayataka Tea is commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan but not so much elsewhere, whereas Zico can be found in many of Coca-Cola’s international markets but not so in China, so Chinese consumers would now have have direct access to these brands via the Tmall store.

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