By Samuel Brett
Queenie Porter has her sights set on becoming the next leading female business executive in women’s sports. The vehicle of the 33-year old’s rapid rise to success has been her involvement in WOW HYDRATE. The brand’s range of sugar-free sports drinks are an increasing force in the world of sports nutrition and the company has signed major deals with some of the biggest names in sport. Last week it was announced that WOW HYDRATE had signed a deal with Manchester United, arguably one of the world’s best known premier league football clubs. Queenie commented, “The deal with Manchester United is the biggest deal in sports I could imagine.
It’s an amazing partnership for WOW HYDRATE and one that we’re really excited about.” Talking about how the deal was struck, she said, “It was surprisingly the quickest deal we have done. It only took six weeks, but our approach and focus spoke for itself. Even though this is a huge achievement for our brand, we have always focused on the grass roots consumer and supported the lower levels and the women’s game as well- that’s something we’re equally as proud of.” The original founder of WOW HYDRATE developed the product when they couldn’t find a healthy hydration drink in the market that was not dairy-based, as many typical protein beverages are. Queenie joined the business in 2018 and in three years, WOW HYDRATE hit the shelves of many key retailers including Tesco, ASDA, and COSTCO outlets.
With the Manchester United pairing, a dual branded addition to the range is set to be released next year, further expanding consumer options. With new product development there comes a creative element alongside research, examination of consumer trends and ongoing blind taste tastings each year. It’s always helpful too to have the backing of huge brand ambassadors like undefeated heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who loved the lemon and lime and orange electrolyte products in the sample stage. The champ now regularly uses the drinks when he trains and is often seen in interviews with a drink in hand. It hasn’t always been easy though- developing meaningful partnerships and ensuring that collaborations are mutually beneficial requires clear vision and direction.
“The biggest challenge in this so far has been dealing with big brands and celebrities keen to work with us. We have to ensure we understand their brand as well as ours- the two have to be an authentic fit. Admittedly, it’s also been a challenge finding a niche in a saturated sports drink market but thankfully with a great team behind us, we’ve been able to think outside of the box and succeed.” Porter said. Reflecting on her own journey within the business, she described how she started out in a completely different industry before her transition to WOW HYDRATE, “I went from fashion to food. I went from negotiating accessories and travelling for TopShop to the food industry. Working in fashion where the margins are very tight has taught me a lot. I also think working with glamorous fashion brands has prepared me for working with celebrity names in sport.”
Not bad for someone who left school at sixteen to pursue a fashion career. Today at just 33, Queenie is one of the newest rising female leaders in the world of sport and she feels right at home. “I always loved sports growing up and to go from fashion to this industry, it has been a dream job. It’s been a real honour to be able to use my negotiation and commercial skills to help lead and grow WOW HYDRATE.”
The partnership with Manchester United has led her to the board of that organisation. She is now also the Vice President of West Ham United F.C. Women. Not all the clubs in the United Kingdom see the business opportunity of women’s football and have been slow to develop corporate governance structures.
Queenie believes that there is a lot to grow. Indeed, the experience of American sports may help guide that development. While in the United States sports attendance is often largely a family pursuit, in the United Kingdom it is still largely a “bloke’s culture” often tied to drinking and gambling. Queenie takes the view that there is room for all in sport. “I think the main thing to help ensure the success of women’s sport is to understand that the women’s game and men’s game don’t need to be the same thing. The men’s game can be an intimidating fan experience in the United Kingdom. From a business perspective, if the women’s game has a different identity, that means different commercial partners and opportunities for sponsorships that don’t exist in the men’s game.”
Meanwhile, WOW HYDRATE isn’t done and plans to continue to develop and evolve. On the topic of sustainability and moving health goalposts, she said, “We continue to be aware of consumer trends and where health and other conversations are headed – that’s why we have the confidence of so many professional athletes and millions of consumers.”