Sunday, November 15, 2009

Will the real Japanese sports drink please stand up?

One of the more predictable things that a new comer will make fun of when arriving in Japan fresh off the banana boat is the name of the sports drink called "Pocari Sweat" and how they will try to convince the locals how unappetizing it sounds to drink something called "sweat". Sure, I had the same reaction many many years back, but after all the years here now, I've become numb and now it's just a sports drink that is useful for sports or when the body needs to be replinished due to some earlier drinking activities.

Pocari Sweat has held a pretty firm grip on the sports drink market since the 80's but the number two is the dink "Aquarius" which Coca Cola Japan are marketing since quite a few years back. Both of these taste basically identical and also Aquarius also chose to utilize primarily blue and white with an arc around the name. Without being an insider in the sports drink market, it seems pretty obvious to me that they were trying to steal a little share from Pocari Sweat by tapping into the brand awareness of that drink. For many years, these two have been the primary drinks for the casual sports drink market. The other day, as I felt the hankering for some sports drink and purchased what I believed to be Aquarius through a vending machine, I realized that instead I had gotten a newly launched sports drink, somewhat cumbersomely called "Kirin Loves Sport" launched by Kirin Beverages, the drink tasted exactly the same as Aquarius and/or Pocari Sweat and also were using white on blue as the primary colors and using an arc like shap close to the logo.To further shake things up, I found myself in a convenience store recently where I found and purchased a new drink, very straightforwardly called "Sports Drink" launched by some local smaller player. The drink tasted exactly the same as Aquarius, Pocari sweat and/or Kirin Loves Sports and they had chosen white on blue as the primary colors and an arc around the name to add some flair.
To help the consumers of Japan reading this page, I thought a brief review on these drinks could be helpful to guide you in your purchases:

Pocari Sweat: 5 - Slightly sweet but not overly so
Aquarius: 5 - Slightly sweet but not overly so
Kirin Loves Sports: 5 - Slightly sweet but not overly so
Sports Drink: 5 - Slightly sweet but not overly so

Pocari Sweat: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair
Aquarius: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair
Kirin Loves Sports: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair
Sports Drink: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair

Value for Money
Pocari Sweat
: 5 - You get a decent sports drink

Aquarius: 5 - You get a decent sports drink
Kirin Loves Sports: 5 - You get a decent sports drink, but they added 55ml for the same price, but you don't really get the same brand value as the veterans
Sports Drink: 5- 5 - You get a decent sports drink, slightly cheaper but you don't get the same brand value compared to the other ones.

For some reason, I personally prefer Aquarius and purchase that when available, but that is actually not based on any rationale or real affection to the brand or anything now that I think of it. I wonder if there are any people confident that they could taste the differences in a blind test of these drinks...


aimlesswanderer said...

Always good to differentiate your products!

Slightly wondering at how there haven't been lawsuits since they look like siblings and seem to taste nearly identical.

So you think you could tell which is which if you were blindfolded?

ThePenguin said...

A nice touch to add the God Jesus for a sense of scale (at least for people familiar with the God Jesus but not 500ml PET bottles).

TED said...

What a great blog! This is just a qucik note to welcome you to The Expat Directory and to encourage your readers to vote for your site -

Some of the pictures and comments are truly inspired, so funny.

Anyway, water....

Does your robot always deliver your water? Sort of like a Japanese Milkman?

On a side note, (note been to Japan for 6 or 7 years now), is Gas Panic still going? I bunrt my lips on a Flaming Lamborghini there once (slightly worse for wear, busy day and a hectic evening afterwards).

I look forward to reading you blog in the future.

Also, dont forget to update your profile - (login first) and if you can complete our questionnaire -

It only takes a minute and you could win $100 US (enough for several bottles of Sweat I wager.

All the best,


Chris said...

Aquarius has the most similar design to the NIKE swish which is what draws me to it. I guess? Or the deeper shiny blue pushes my severe A.D.H.D button just right .

Mr. Salaryman said...

Aimless - Well, I can hardly tell which when they're right in front of me and even less if I would be blindfolded on top of that...

Penguin - Yes, thoughtful of me, wasn't it?

TED - Well, thanks to you too, glad that you liked the blog and thanks for having me in your directory. ...and yes, as far as I know Gas Panic still exist, but staying away from there is a good idea I would think...

Chris- yeah, but yeah... don't they ALL kinda look a bit like the Nike swish? But maybe Aquarius is closest to the mark

ThePenguin said...

Gas Panic does still exist, I was there a week or so ago.

For the first time in 16 years, I must emphasize. And for reasons too complex to go into here.

There is an upstairs bit which is merely trashy (the kind of place a young Marine from Yokosuka would take his date for a sophisticated night out) and has actual tables and seating which was new to me, and a downstairs bit which is presumably as extremely trashy as it was 16 years ago.

There's also at least one spin-off Gas Panic, in Shibuya.

Martin said...

Hey! The swirl of Pocari looks very similar to Coca Colas swirl, while the Aquarius (That is produced from the Coca Cola company) use the Nike-swish ripoff instead.

Maby Coka Cola doesn´t want to use the Coke-swirl for Aquarius in fear of beeing sued by Pocari?

Foggia said...

Am I the only one to think those taste like aspirin ?
(the effervescent tablet one)

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