Abbott takes Pedialyte on the festival circuit as grown-up hangover remedy

Summer music festival goers may see a new face this year among the beer and souvenir tents. Pedialyte, Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) electrolyte drink for sick kids, is joining the summer fun circuit to hand out samples as an antidote for overindulgence.

Already established as an ad hoc hangover remedy, Pedialyte decided to embrace the millennial social media buzz and launched its "See the Lyte" marketing push in mid-March, specifically targeting adults with its remedy for mild dehydration after a stomach flu--or too much alcohol.

"There has long been an underground movement of adults who know that Pedialyte is an effective hydration solution," Abbott spokeswoman Lindsy Delco told FiercePharmaMarketing in an email interview. "Over the last few years, this underground movement has gained momentum with the popularity of social media--further driving word of mouth around the adult usage of Pedialyte.

"We are leveraging the moment with the launch of our 'See the Lyte' campaign targeted at adults, letting everyone in on the secret. … This expansion will position the brand for growth for the first time in many years."

Starting at the end of May, Pedialyte street teams will show up at 144 music festivals and sporting events to give out samples of newly launched powder packs. Designed to appeal to adults, they're larger packets for larger servings, and come in strawberry lemonade and orange flavors. The marketing campaign also includes social and digital ads, Facebook ($FB) and Twitter ($TWTR) pages, digital partnerships with BuzzFeed, couponing, search and public relations.

Delco quoted Nielsen research that shows one-third of Pedialyte sales already comes from adult use, a growth of 57% since 2012. Pedialyte retail sales were $102 million last year, as tracked by Nielsen, up 22% since 2012. Its main competition in the oral electrolyte space are private label store brands.

Abbott's goal is to tap this new market of potential adult users who may also be dehydrated after exercise or travel. When asked about going head-to-head with powerhouse brands like Pepsico's ($PEP) Gatorade or Coca-Cola's ($KO) Powerade, Delco said Pedialyte won't target athletes directly, but added, "adults have historically used substitutes to rehydrate, like sports drinks or juice, because there have been few OES (oral electrolyte solution) products positioned to adults."

Abbott isn't the only consumer health company eyeing the hangover market, though. Bayer Healthcare recruited TV star Joel McHale of Community fame for its U.S. launch of Berocca, a vitamin-plus-caffeine remedy long used by Aussies to fight morning-after woes. Like the Pedialyte products, Berocca dissolves in water for a drinkable solution.

Then again, there's nothing to stop both products from building fans. Simultaneously, even. Some sufferers might double-team their hangovers by dissolving Berocca tablets and Pedialyte powders into one pick-me-up cocktail.

- here's the See the Lyte website

Special Report: The top 10 pharma companies in social media - Bayer

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