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Can Prime, the drink driving kids crazy, be more than a fad? - 2nd June 2023


The sports drinks promoted by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI are a lesson in scarcity marketing in the social media age, but can the epic hype turn into lasting sales?

When the stark white Meta Moon bottle of Prime Hydration dropped into the Australian market, the “Limited edition” sports drink – which tastes like bubble gum and fairy floss – quickly became the most sought after item in schools around the country, which meant the marketing machine was working exactly as planned.

As playground fads go it’s one of the stranger ones: buying and selling sports drinks. The beverage in question is marketed and part-owned by two social media stars who have tens of millions of followers, particularly tween and teenage boys.

In February, ahead of the product’s launch in Australia, thousands of fans blocked a street in North Sydney next to Nine’s office – which owns The Australian Financial Review – hoping to catch a glimpse of the drink’s co-owners, boxer and WWE wrestling star Logan Paul and his business partner KSI (Olajide Olayinka Williams), a rapper and boxer, who were appearing on the Today show.

Planned meet and greet events at Woolworths stores in Perth were cancelled over safety fears when it was realised how many people were likely to turn up. Then, when the drink went on sale in March, shoppers scrambled to get their hands on the bottles.

Paul and KSI were once boxing rivals but joined forces to leverage their fan bases: Paul has more than 48 million followers across YouTube and Instagram combined; KSI has nearly 37 million followers.

Prime is now considered the capital of cool by kids on the playground – if they can get a bottle that is. Prime Hydration sells at Woolworths for $4.50 each, but you will find bottles on Amazon at $25 and even in some corner shops it can cost $15 a pop.

Prime has now been banned from some schools – even the empty bottles – with kids selling them to each other at inflated prices. Some youth sports clubs also banned all sports drinks following the hype. To help consumers track down supplies, Twitter handle Prime Tracker publishes details of stock in multiple countries including UK and Australia.

But it’s not all sunshine. Carbonated Prime Energy has been criticised for the amount of caffeine it contains: 56mg per 100ml. In comparison, energy drinks Red Bull and V Energy contain 32mg per 100ml. Some youth sports clubs have banned to beverage, which is considered dangerous for people who weigh less than 40kg.

The controversy is welcome and has helped make the product even more desirable among the younger demographics.

But are algorithms, exotic flavours and 5G connectivity really enough to build a lasting business? Or will Prime end up another fad, like the Pokémon cards, Slinky’s and Cabbage Patch kids of the past.

Paul and KSI are certainly adept at creating demand: in April they handed out a “limited edition” Prime Lemonade of just 10,000 bottles to consumers on Venice Beach, California; one bright yellow bottle, adorned with a picture of Paul and KSI, was for sale on for $999.

In May, Prime Lemonade became widely available in the US. The YouTubers are gradually going global and will launch the product in Denmark and Norway on June 7.

Both men have woven Prime into their media work: when Paul appeared in an episode of the popular Netflix series King of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch, Prime could be seen in the background as he and Ken Goldin did a live box-break looking for rare Pokémon cards to sell to collectors.

Paul’s and KSI’s social media posts also include the brightly coloured bottles of Prime. It’s an object lesson in how influencers can leverage their fame to launch and market products, especially ones aimed at the youth demographic and live online.

In a radio interview with Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, Paul and KSI said Prime had generated $US250 million ($383 million) in retail sales globally in its first year; $US45 million in January alone.

They’re not alone, the global influencer market has more than doubled since 2019, according to Statista. This year, globally, it has an estimated value of $US21.1 billion.

Woolworths sells a million bottles

It’s not just the influencers who benefitted from the Prime launch. It was one of the biggest product debuts for Woolworths, the nation’s largest grocery chain, with more than a million bottles sold in the first few weeks. Hundreds of buyers were calling stores every week trying to find out when the drink would be back on the shelf. To ensure fairness, the retailer instigated a five bottle limit per customer.

Last year the drink sparked chaotic scenes in stores around the UK, when it was delivered to Sainsbury’s and Asda chains and sold out in just minutes. Both retailers also set limits on sales.

Woolworths launches a few thousand products every year but Prime is something special. On rough calculations, if Prime’s early success were annualised, it could make up about 1 per cent to 2 per cent of Woolworths’ drink category sales, one analyst says.

“The anticipation, excitement and demand for this was unprecedented, and we’re continuing to work closely with the manufacturer to ensure we have stock arriving each week as it’s now part of the sports drinks range in our stores,” a Woolworths spokesperson says.

Cultural obsession

QUT Professor Gary Mortimer, who researches food retailing, retail marketing and consumer behaviour, says Prime is an example of influencer marketing at its best.

“I’ve heard stories of people simply refilling the bottle with water or Gatorade, but having it in the Prime container to provide this social connection, that validates themselves with others,” he says.

Gina Lednyak, chief executive of content and social media firm L&A Social (a Tag company), says pre-teens and teenagers are more prone to excess and peer pressure. They look for things that provide social status and make them feel part of a community.

“The fact it is hard to get, the scarcity, leads to more of a cultural obsession.” she says.

Over the years there have been various crazes with products that catch momentum with youth, then they sell out, and the scarcity is what builds up the hype. Think sour/sweet Warhead candy, girl band Spice Girl lollipops, Pokémon cards, and more recently fidget spinners.

“Prime is the perfect storm of people catching an age demographic that is thirsty for community and belonging and absolutely digitally native, thus exposed to a lot of online content from influencers and peers,” Lednyak says.

Bring on the money

American Paul is one of the highest-paid YouTube stars with a net wealth of about $US18 million in 2022, according to Forbes. He even held an exhibition match with former world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2021.

There are other media reports that estimate Paul’s worth at a staggering $US250 million. Brit KSI is also highly successful and co-founded restaurant chain Sides and Vodka brand XIX, and has an estimated net worth of about $US25 million.

Paul and KSI each own about 20 per cent of Prime with manufacturer Congo Brands owning the balance. Congo also produces Alani Nutrition, a women’s sports nutrition product range and 3D Energy drinks.

Congo Brands is owned by Trey Steiger and Max Clemons. The Louisville, Kentucky natives set up Congo in 2014, according its website.

Outsiders hoping for a piece of the action are out of luck, as Congo’s website says each of their brands “chooses not to take on debt or outside investment so that growth is controlled from within.”

Will mania last?

There have been hugely successful businesses started by influencers, including Australian fitness stars and young Rich Listers Kayla Itsines and Tammy Hembrow, but in the fast moving consumer goods industry longevity is harder to achieve.

Former US president Donald Trump’s Trump Steaks lasted just two months in 2007. However, pre-influencer Paul Newman’s sauces have outlived the man who created the line and the company is celebrating its 35 anniversary this year.

But the mania for Prime will be fleeting, says Mortimer. In any hyped up market limited supply creates FOMO (fear of missing out) and the need for social validation drives demand among younger consumers.

But then comes the fall, especially when it comes to Gen Z and Gen Alpha, who are always on the hunt for the next big thing.

“They get a bottle for $10, then it gets on-sold in school yards for $15 or $20 a bottle, and then suddenly the novelty wears off and everybody’s got it, everybody’s tried it, and we start to see discounting. It was only recently someone had Tweeted an image of Walmart selling a pallet of Prime for $1.99,” he says.

“Trends tend to be a very sharp curve. So, a really short period introduction, significant high growth, not a lot of time in maturity, and then a very steep decline.”

Mortimer says the sports drink market is saturated with the likes of Powerade and Gatorade the top players. While the YouTube stars will seek to extend the life and hype of Prime with the introduction of “Limited Editon”, this too is not new. Big global brands do it: Coke moved into diet and less sugar versions and printed names on the cans, while Cadbury offers limited-editon chocolate options.

“Prime is a bit quirky because it’s been driven and promoted by influencers who have got a very strong following from a smaller cohort,” Mortimer says.

Regardless, he thinks the drink will disappear pretty quickly.

“I walked through a Woollies store today, and Prime was sitting on the shelf next to the Gatorade,” he says. “In the recent past, you couldn’t get it. I’m already seeing a slowdown in demand.”




We created PRIME to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners to fill the void where great taste meets function.

We dropped our first product, PRIME Hydration in 2022 and since then, we've continued to work countless hours to expand in retailers, reach new markets and formulate new products we know you'll love.

We’ve been humbled by the process of creating a real brand & surpassing some of the biggest beverage companies in the world. As underdogs, we always cherish the opportunity to show the world what’s possible.

Now that we’re both fighting for the same team, we truly believe the sky is the limit.

KSI & Logan Paul


Energy Drink wars Australia wide and globally; Red Bull miles in front and can anyone catch them?

Energy drink wars; A Mother of all beverage wars

Love them or hate them, energy drinks appear to be here for the long haul, both down under in Australia and in many parts of the world.

Australia is a red hot market for the feisty Red Bull, due in part to Aussie's love of sport and extreme sports, and the fact that Red Bull is entirely legal in Australia. That's right, some countries have outlawed the energy and caffeine fueled beverage.

Many would be energy drinks have attempted to tackle the bull over the past decade plus, but none have succeeded. Once in a while a new entrant has a crack, usually to no avail.

It was circa 2005 in Sydney, Australia when adult entertainment powerhouse, Private Media, aimed to leverage off their adult themed background and launch Private Drinks, which by all accounts was a good drop, however they didn't last much longer than 6 months despite a concentrated media and marketing effort in collaboration with the likes of Sexpo!

One brand that is continuing to gain traction in the energy drink sector is Monster Energy. They have smartly got involved in niche extreme sports such as Monster Trucks. Get it! Say G'day to Monster Jam if you haven't already extreme sports lovers. There's also the tie in with MMA powerhouse, the UFC, which is full of human monsters of sorts!

The idea is that if you need an extra lift or boost, as you would in the world of monster truck racing, pro surfing, snowboarding and perhaps pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, go down a Monster.

A can or bottle of the typical energy drink contains about 5 times the caffeine of that in a cup of coffee, so you have been forewarned.

So punters are you game to join in the Australian and international energy drink wars? We have Red Bull in the Blue corner with silver trim, and Monster Energy in the opposite corner, with monster like features and trimmings as you might expect. It's going to be a fierce super heavyweight encounter. Is that another contender checking out the action. Is this about to become a 3 Way dance for the Energy Drink Championship Of The World, or is it just another journeyman brand and nothing more than a flash in the pan? Hello from the rafters.. V and Mother want to get in a challenge for the upcoming championship opportunities. Will it all be broadcast on Red Bull TV? Whatever happened to Fuel TV? So many questions. Only some answers.

Give it 3 months till the next Energy Drink PPV ala UFC, Bellator MMA and WWE supercard. Fans, things just got red hot in the war for dominance. Stay tuned, you want want to miss a second of the Action.


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