ACNielsen U.S., an operating unit of ACNielsen Corporation (NYSE: ART), released data today that shows that, while the convenience channel leads all other retail channels in sales of sports drinks for most of the year, the grocery channel leads during the crucial summer months. The information, gleaned from ACNielsen's Convenience Track(TM) service, was presented here during the annual convention of the National Association of Convenience Stores.

ACNielsen found that the grocery channel is gaining momentum in the $1.6 billion category (see chart at the conclusion of this release). Sports drink sales in the grocery channel have outpaced those in the convenience channel during five warm-weather, four-week periods this year compared with three such periods last year. Sales in the grocery channel have also been growing faster than those in the C-store channel in all four-week periods since April.

An analysis of ACNielsen information for the 12 weeks ending September 2nd attributes sales gains in the grocery channel to the popularity of new package sizes, especially 20-ounce eight-packs. At the same time, convenience stores have experienced a decline in sales of 20-ounce singles, the package size that has accounted for roughly one third of category sales in C-stores.

According to ACNielsen account director Susan Dunn, "Manufacturers have successfully broadened the appeal of sports drinks from a product that was initially targeted toward adults to one that now appeals to children as well. Their strategy of catering to families by making more convenient multi-packs available in the grocery channel is paying off."

As would be expected, ACNielsen Convenience Track data shows that local markets where sports drinks do especially well are, for the most part, in the sun belt. On the basis of a Category Development Index (CDI), which compares actual sales in a market to what would be expected given the overall size of the category and the population of the market, San Antonio leads the way with a CDI of 224. That means sales of sports drinks in San Antonio are 124 percent higher than would be expected. Rounding out the top five CDI markets are Birmingham, Dallas, Orlando, and Phoenix.

Sports Drinks

Share % Chg YA $ Sales
C-Stores Grocery C-Stores Grocery F/D/M/C
-------- ------- -------- ------- -------
4 Wks Ending
09/30/00 49.5 43.5 4.4% 16.4% 161,090,699
4 Wks Ending
09/02/00 46.9 44.6 -0.6% 11.6% 180,603,979
4 Wks Ending
08/05/00 45.4 45.5 -0.1% 1.4% 178,208,485
4 Wks Ending
07/08/00 43.7 47.1 5.6% 13.0% 167,778,483
4 Wks Ending
06/10/00 43.5 47.7 11.8% 15.2% 149,146,178
4 Wks Ending
05/13/00 43.8 48.0 11.3% 12.2% 124,351,169
4 Wks Ending
04/15/00 44.8 48.2 10.4% 19.6% 106,242,712
4 Wks Ending
03/18/00 47.9 44.1 11.5% 4.7% 92,070,679
4 Wks Ending
02/19/00 49.0 43.9 10.2% 0.7% 84,352,458
4 Wks Ending
01/22/00 49.4 43.7 15.8% 15.0% 85,148,437

ACNielsen, with 1999 revenue of $1.5 billion, is the world's leading market research firm, offering measurement and analysis of marketplace dynamics, consumer attitudes and behavior and new and traditional media in more than 100 countries. Clients include leading consumer product manufacturers and retailers, service firms, media and entertainment companies and the Internet community.