Business Maverick


Much-hyped energy drink PRIME is now in a store near you – for a lot cheaper

Much-hyped energy drink PRIME is now in a store near you – for a lot cheaper
At the height of the mania, the going rate for mere sips of Prime was R50 on the school playground. (Photo: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images)

It might not look (or even taste) like much, but if you know, you know. PRIME Hydration Drink – the energy and sports drink range that has made children around the world lose their senses and their cents – will finally be available at a more reasonable price than the R400-plus it’s been selling for online.

Retail giant Checkers was confirmed as the official South African retail partner of PRIME, which will be available to “local fans” from 1 May 2023, at a more sensible cost of R39.99. 

Entrepreneurial youngsters, cashing in on the frenzy for PRIME while exploring the lucrative potential of black-market economics, have been selling individual 500ml units of the drink for about R1,400. 

At the height of the mania, the going rate for mere sips of the hellishly expensive energy drink was R50 on the school playground.

On Takealot, the cheapest PRIME currently sells for R399, climbing to R1,999 for a “Magic Four” pack.

The official drink of the LA Dodgers baseball team, PRIME is promoted by YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI, who have a combined following of more than 47 million people. The product’s release in 2022 was hyped on social media and widely promoted through mainstream sports sponsorship deals.

PRIME bottles on display during the KSI vs FaZe Temperrr MF cruiserweight title fight at Wembley in London on 14 January 2023. (Photo: Joseph Okpako / WireImage)

It’s believed that since launching in June 2022, the drink has generated $250-million in retail sales worldwide – $45-million of those sales were in January 2023.

In the UK, PRIME has been so popular that retailers have been forced to place restrictions on sales, with some customers reselling the drink – originally priced at £24.99 for 12 bottles – for more than £1,000. That’s R22,558 for two six-packs.

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The drink’s popularity is said to be down to the pair’s use of self-disclosure in which they share personal life stories, and audience engagement rate, which is a reflection of the number of people watching your videos, while interacting with your channel and content. This includes video views, likes, dislikes, comments, subscriptions and shares. They are also said to make savvy use of YouTube’s algorithmic networks in which videos with similar content are linked through YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. 

First launched in the US, the UK and Australia, PRIME is wildly popular among Gen Zs, with customers lining up overnight to get their hands on the drink.

Checkers says there is a limited supply, so it’s asking customers to be “respectful” of other customers during the launch phase, and is restricting sales to eight per customer. 

Stripped of the hype, PRIME doesn’t promise to give you wings or turn you into a monster: it is a hydration drink, with coconut water and zero added sugar or caffeine, electrolytes, vitamins A and E and zinc, and branched-chain amino acids (proteins).

Only selected Checkers and Checkers Hyper stores and Sixty60 in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal will stock PRIME.

Four of the flavours – Ice Pop, Blue Raspberry, Lemon Lime and Tropical Punch – will be sold. 

Launch events will be held at the following stores: 

Western Cape: Checkers Hyper Canal Walk

Gauteng: Checkers Sandton City, Johannesburg

Checkers Hyper Castle Gate Shopping Centre, Pretoria

Checkers Hyper New Menlyn, Menlo Park

KwaZulu-Natal: Checkers Hyper Oceans Mall, Umhlanga. BM/DM


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  • Philip Machanick says:

    What a scam. In the US, at Walmart, it retails for $49.49 for 12 bottles (with some variation depending on flavour). That’s just over $4 per bottle, or about R75. Still crazy but not as crazy as R400.

    To put this in context, an extra-large Caffe Latte at Starbucks in the US costs just over $4. In South Africa, the equivalent coffee is R65. So if pricing should be equivalent, one of these overpriced drinks should be R65 (same as Starbucks overpriced coffee).

    All of this designed to make the Checkers price of R39.99 look like a bargain. It’s an even bigger bargain if you don’t buy it.

    A drink laced with artificial sweeteners like Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium is not accurate to call a “health” drink. If you want to hydrate, drink water. If you want vitamins, eat natural food. If you correctly believe too much sugar is bad, school your sense of taste to less sweetness. And don’t encourage your kids to waste money on junk.

    Now that marketing tobacco to children is illegal, I suppose unprincipled capitalists have to go somewhere…

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