PepsiCo chief says Gatorade will "stay the course"

Gatorade is growing again after a rough 2009. That's good news for PepsiCo, owner of the giant sports drink brand.

At a New York conference organized by trade journal Beverage Digest, PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi said the company had to swing the brand's focus back to athletes and away from casual customers.

PepsiCo re-branded Gatorade into the "G Series," adding a number of extensions and beverages tailored to different stages of a workout. The brand has reversed last year's downward sales trends, although it has lost market share to Coca-Cola Co.'s Powerade brand.

Even in the days of Gatorade's rapid growth, it was a mistake to treat the brand like a "social beverage" instead of an athletic beverage, Nooyi said.

Before the re-branding, Gatorade had been "an example of how not to run a functional nutrition business," Nooyi said during an on-stage interview with John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. PepsiCo executives have said the brand had started to become amorphous.

"We had to remake it," Nooyi said. "We had some hiccups, but the brand is now on sustained growth. We're going to stay the course. This is the way to do it."

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