From High-performance to Hangovers: The Rise of Clean Hydration

Image: Hydrant

Water is getting a makeover. More and more consumers are turning away from high-sugar and artificially flavored drinks and reaching for cleaner hydration options.

Leading the charge, Liquid I.V. has transformed the category with its clean ingredients, growing to $100M in revenue in just five years. (Of note, Gatorade saw sales drop nearly 10% since 2015.) Last year, Liquid I.V. was acquired by Unilever.

Following suit, NestlΓ© is acquiring electrolyte tablet maker Nuun as it continues to bolster its supplement portfolio.

With the hydration market expected to top $1.8B globally, upstarts are hoping to cash in:

  • Hydrant raised a $8.5M Series A to sell its hydration packets.
  • Cure Hydration landed $2.6M for plant-based electrolyte powders.
  • beam entered the hydration space after its $5M Series A in February.
  • Gainful, makers of protein powders and hydration products, raised $7.5M in January.

Hangover hack. Hydration companies have found an unexpected following from regretful revelers. With a billion dollars up for grabs, even Barstool is joining in, while toddler-drink maker Pedialyte has embraced its newfound label as a hangover cure.

With all this buzz, do hydration sticks and tablets actually work better than plain old H2O?

Experts say yes β€” hydration goes beyond drinking water, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium) in these products help your body absorb greater amounts of water at a faster rate while helping regulate crucial body functions.

Next up, a new wave of wearables. Gatorade launched its Gx Sweat Patch earlier this year. Researchers at Tufts and Northwestern have developed postage-sized sweat sensors that can track your hydration levels. And switching it up, sweat itself may power your next wearable.

Punchline: Functional hydration is a hot market, the latest in the healthy overhaul of what we put in our bodies.