POCARI SWEAT is a health drink, containing electrolytes that resembles the natural fluid balance of the human body. Manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, the brand hit the Japanese market in 1980. Since then, POCARI SWEAT has been widely consumed in a variety of settings in which adequate hydration is an important consideration.
POCARI SWEAT was developed over forty years ago. An Otsuka researcher was hospitalised with diarrhoea while on a business trip in Mexico, and subsequently suffered from dehydration. The local physician instructed him to rehydrate with carbonated soft drinks, leading him to wonder if there wasn’t a more suitable beverage to quickly replenish lost electrolytes and water to the body. Later back in Japan, he noticed that doctors would drink intravenous solutions to refresh themselves after finishing surgery. With this as the inspiration, the idea to develop a “drinkable IV” was born. The product was developed around this concept, a beverage close to the composition of the body’s natural fluids that would easily replace lost electrolytes and water.
In 1980, POCARI SWEAT was launched. While there was growing interest in healthy living, consumers had neither seen nor tasted a product like this before, and initially they rejected it out of hand. Otsuka realized that in order to create a new market, first of all consumers needed to know the benefits of the product. So the POCARI SWEAT team researched everyday conditions in which people sweat and sought to convey the concept behind the product, and the importance of replacing lost electrolytes and water. Otsuka staff handed out chilled sample bottles at saunas, baseball stadiums, and other places where people were sweating from heat and exercise, in addition to handing out samples to shoppers. In total, 30 million bottles were distributed in 1980. The product gradually gained traction and then, two years after its debut, became a big hit.
The design of the POCARI SWEAT logo is a visual representation of the product’s functionality. The use of “cool” colors at the time of launch was considered inappropriate for food products. The blue represents the ocean, and the white suggests a wave. The white wave is also an abstract representation of the curve of a graph showing the absorption rate of pure water versus that of POCARI SWEAT. In this way, the company has retained its focus on universal concepts while continuously ensuring that products stay fresh and new. Otsuka has continued to innovate around POCARI SWEAT to meet society’s changing needs, and effectively communicate the benefits of these products to consumers.
Since introducing POCARI SWEAT, Otsuka has continued research on electrolyte and fluid replacement. Resulting data provides additional evidence that the product may be useful in dry environments or long-haul air travel, and the related risks of pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. In 1992, the term ‘heat disorders’ was largely unknown in Japan. Otsuka was the first private corporation to cooperate with the Japan Sports Association to form a research team dedicated to finding countermeasures to heat disorders associated with sporting activities. Seeking to promote a wider understanding of heat disorders, we continue to share information about the importance of electrolyte and water replenishment. Still today, in addition to sports, we provide guidance on safe hydration in the workplace and for the elderly.