Sharapova and Sugarpova: Game, Set and Mismatch – But Both are Winning

This post is part of a series that is related to the ongoing Australian Open 2015 tournament.

Sharapova and Sugarpova initially seemed to be a mismatch, but the combination actually makes sense.

 

Health and sugar don’t match. In fact, in recent years, sugar has probably earned the unhealthy reputation of bacon. Look at what has happened to Krispy Kreme.

A sport star is a bastion of fitness and if ever one will associate himself with a sugary product, the terms used will be “fuel”, “power” or “energy boost” rather than “sweet, “sugar” or “candy”.

In 2012, when Maria Sharapova, a five time grand slam tennis champion, launched Sugarpova, a line of premium candies, many were perplexed with the move.

Sharapova is the world’s highest paid female athlete, and she makes most of that money off the court by hawking products from Tag Heuer, Nike, Porsche, Cole Haan and other brands. What makes Sugarpova different from all those other brands is that it is actually Sharapova’s own business. She’s selling the candies on behalf of herself.

Sugarpova is “premium” candy; in other words, more expensive than usual candies. A 5 oz bag of Sugarpovas costs around USD 5.99, many times more than usual candy brands. Not that these candies have something to be premium about. Most premium products boast using the finest ingredients, the finest manufacturing technique (finest being either ultra modern or handmade, but never the in-between), posh packaging, or luxurious buying experience. None of these are present in or claimed by Sugarpova. Sugarpovas are expensive because of Maria Sharapova.

There have always been premium chocolates, but never premium candies. Who would have thought of coming up with premium sour balls or gummy bears? Apparently no one has, which is why Sugarpova occupies its own niche. There must be candy that’s worthy of selfies, instagrams and facebook posts. Sugarpova fills that void.

In its first three months of release, Sugarpova had sold around 250,000 bags. It has probably sold more than a million bags by now. That’s major, considering that these candies have limited availability. In fact, here in the Philippines, there’s only one store chain that carries it.

I was lucky to get a bag here in Manila. The store I went to had only two bags. One is  “Quirky Sour, the other is  “Quirky”. Obviously, I didn’t have to ask what the difference between the two is… Actually I did. The sales lady said one was sweet, the other was sour. I went with the non-sour one.

Sugarpova candies available in the Philippines
Cheaper in the Philippines. Just PHP 199.75 or USD 4.52 in Manila. Do I see an arbitrage opportunity? Image by thefinancemd.com

 

Surprisingly, the bag was cheaper here in the Philippines by around 25%. Compared to other imported candies here, the price didn’t seem too steep.

Sharapova, a sports star, has received flak from nutritionist for promoting a seemingly unhealthy product. Since sports stars are popular with young fans, there are claims that Sugarpova is targeting kids. Sharapova’s agent, Max Eisenbud, denied this though. I have a question for Mr. Eisenbud – Aren’t kids the demographic that eats the most candy?

I’ll show you the back of the Sugarpova bag and judge for yourself if the candies are unhealthy or not.

 

Sugarpova quirky description and ingredient list
“It’s so boring to fit in” – that’s what the label says.
However, the list of ingredients and calories make Sugarpovas fit right in with cheaper candies. Image by thefinancemd.com

 

Some of the flavors of Sugarpova include flirty (shaped like lips), sporty (shaped like tennis balls), cheeky (shaped like ordinary gummy bears), etc. They’re all adjectives!

Maria Sharapova with her Sugarpova candy varieties
Blowing you away with candies and their high prices. Maria Sharapova with her Sugarpova candies. Image from sugarpova.com

 

A lot of credit has been given to Sharapova’s beauty as the cause of her marketability. She may be pretty, but an important reason why she’s paid top dollar is because of her tennis ability. In fact, the only player better than her today is Serena Williams, her opponent in the 2015 Australian Open Finals on Saturday.

Sharapova’s hard work has been rewarded with an Australian Open Finals berth this year. During the past two weeks, her candy company has also been working hard offering Aussies free ground shipping during the tournament to jack up sales. A championship trophy and to finally beat Serena after more than a dozen consecutive losses will be Sharapova’s goal.

Since her marketability is also tied to her tennis results; on Saturday, she is also playing for the brands she endorses. The brand that counts most will be Sharapova’s own baby – Sugarpova.  Maria even wanted to legally change her name to Maria Sugarpova, temporarily, for the 2013 US Open. She failed to do that. In fact, she failed to even play in that tournament due to an injury.

Will the “taste of victory” remain candy or become reality? Find out tonight at the Australian Open.

 

 

– Finance MD

thefinancemd.com

 

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Finance, M.D.

Finance, M.D. is a practicing physician who dabbles in finance and investment. He has passed all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams, all in his first attempts. thefinancemd.com

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