It's in the name: Pedialyte is aimed at small children. But even though that name isn't changing, the drink's target market is, a rep tells MarketWatch.
Since 2012, thanks in large part to social media, the oral electrolyte's use has exploded by 60 percent among the grown-up set, MarketWatch reports. Today, adults make up a third of Pedialyte drinkers, inspired in part by the likes of Pharrell Williams, who has publicized his love for the drink — which many believe is a great hangover cure.
"We saw increased use by adults. We have high electrolyte and lower sugar content than common [hydration] beverages," the rep says. "That combination caused us to say, ‘We need to be part of this.'"
Now, the company is pitching a "See the Lyte" marketing campaign that will put it up against the likes of Gatorade; Pedialyte will hit 144 sports games and music festivals with samples this year.
At least one advertisement is hardly subtle about the product's use for hangovers. "When last night's party threatens to ruin today, those in the know reach for Pedialyte," says the ad, as reported by CNBC. A recent Mother's Day ad also depicted a card, ostensibly from a child, telling mom the drink "goes with both red and white." (Pedialyte is unveiling powder packs as a large-bottle alternative, as well as new flavors aimed at adults, like strawberry lemonade.)
Does it really work as a post-party pick-me-up? Well, it does help combat dehydration, an expert tells CNBC: In Pedialyte and Gatorade, he says, "there is an optimal concentration to absorb glucose and electrolytes and fluid from the intestines." But a brand consultant raises some marketing doubts: "It’s like going out and having a headache and someone asks, ‘Would you like children’s Tylenol?'"
(In related news, the states that might need Pedialyte most are probably these: the ones with the most binge-drinking.)