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  6. The Story of POCARI SWEAT

RehydrationThe Story of POCARI SWEAT

About 40 years ago, an Otsuka researcher with a dream of developing an unprecedented new beverage was on a business trip to Mexico, when he was hospitalized due to diarrhea. The doctor told him to make sure he got enough water and nutrition, but just gave him a regular carbonated drink. This led the researcher to think how much better it would be if he had an easy-to-drink beverage that could supply both the water and nutrients he needed.

Then in 1973, the same researcher saw a doctor drinking a pouch of I.V. solution to rehydrate himself after finishing surgery; it was this that gave him the idea for a drinkable I.V. solution. With Otsuka being a leading company in the I.V. solutions business, the researcher had the expertise and resources to turn his idea into a reality, and so began to develop a beverage that could replenish the water and electrolytes (ions) lost while sweating during daily activities.

Three years later, society had become more health conscious and jogging was all the rage.
However, rather than develop a sports drink, the researchers sought to create a healthy beverage that everyone could enjoy in their daily lives.

Through this work, the Otsuka researchers discovered that there are different kinds of sweat. They also found that the concentration of salt in sweat excreted during everyday activities is lower than in sweat produced during sports activities. Based on these findings, the researchers tried to create a beverage to replenish body fluid after regular everyday perspiration. However, it was quite bitter, and did not taste good.

Using a process of trial and error, the researchers came up with over 1,000 test products, but the taste was still not satisfactory. It was then that they had the idea of combining their drink with some other rejected drinks that were being developed in the same lab. On mixing a trial rehydration drink with a citrus powder juice, they found that the bitter taste was gone, and a great tasting beverage was born. Through this combination that no one had considered before, the development of this unique drink took a big leap forward.

The research continued, and finally two test products were prepared: one with high sugar content and one with low sugar content. At that time, sweet juice-style beverages were the norm. Many of the researchers thought that the sweetness of the test beverage was not sufficient. However, in order to test the product concept of a drink that tastes great, and especially after sweating, the researchers did not rely on their common sense - in fact, one of them actually climbed a mountain to try out the test products for himself. Doing so, he realized that the lightly sweetened test product was easier to drink, and it was this field test that determined the final taste decision.

The unprecedented rehydration drink, POCARI SWEAT, was launched in 1980. However, even after trying it, many people did not understand the concept of the new beverage, and the taste did not seem to be catching on either.

Despite this initial setback, Otsuka Pharmaceutical did not give up. In order to convey the new rehydration drink concept, employees visited venues where people were likely to perspire. While telling consumers of the importance of rehydration, they had them actually try POCARI SWEAT in these situations. By the end of the campaign, 30 million bottles of POCARI SWEAT had been distributed as free samples.

In the summer of 1982, two years after the launch, POCARI SWEAT suddenly became a major hit product with people finally understanding the concept. Otsuka had succeeded in developing a completely new market, namely, a rehydration beverage specifically designed for consumption after sweating.

In 2013, a new version of POCARI SWEAT was launched. POCARI SWEAT ION WATER offers the same functional benefits as the original, but with a light sweetness and a refreshing taste that can be enjoyed even at room temperature.

In 2016, POCARI SWEAT Jelly was launched. Designed for people who understand the importance of fluid and ion replenishment but are unable to replenish fluids before exercise, this new "edible hydration" was the first new form of POCARI SWEAT since the initial product launch in 1980.

The POCARI SWEAT logo was designed to convey the idea of replenishment of water and electrolytes (ions) as well as the speed of absorption. The color blue was adopted for the packaging, even though in Japan at that time blue was considered taboo for beverage products. This was a result of the designer's belief that the design should express the product's essential qualities, as well as the determination of Otsuka's president that the design should convey the product concept.

In regard to the name POCARI SWEAT, the word "sweat" was used in order to make the concept unmistakable, and "pocari" is a catchy word that conveys the image of a refreshing blue sky in Japanese.

In addition to POCARI SWEAT contributing to the health of people, the packaging has also continued to evolve to take into consideration environmental impact. In 2009, the weight of the 500ml and 900ml eco-bottles was reduced by about 30% compared to conventional plastic bottles.

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