The Story of POCARI SWEAT
Over 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.
Also, 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. During this process, researchers focused on a combination of electrolytes and citrus juices. When the two were mixed, the bitter taste disappeared. Through this combination, 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.
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.
POCARI SWEAT was created based on the concept of a rehydration drink to be consumed after sweating. It was developed through research on the body's water metabolism, and the best formula to replenish the water and electrolytes (ions) lost during perspiration. In over 30 years since then, Otsuka has continued its research and accumulated scientific evidence demonstrating its effectiveness.