What's Your Niche?

November 1, 2006
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What’s Your Niche?
By JENNIFER ZEGLER

New products in the ever-expanding energy category target specific demographics

Female on the go? There are many for you. Loyal sports fan? There are a couple for you too.
And don’t worry, there are still a plethora of energy drinks for males ages 15 to 35 as well. As the energy drink category continues to grow, companies are formulating drinks for specific niches. Females, Hispanics and numerous other demographics are some of the many new targets for energy drink manufacturers.
The category is as hyperactive as consumers after too many of these caffeine-enhanced drinks. Revenues for the year ending Oct. 8, are at a booming $596.6 million, according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago. According to new product tracking service Productscan, more than 130 energy drinks were launched in the past year.
Where the boys are
For the initial target market of males, the energy drink category has no shortage of new products. Some products target males in their name alone. DareDevil, Power Trip, The Beast and King ‘888’ all have testosterone-infused product names.
Another product leveraging its name is the “Who’s Your Daddy?” line of energy drinks. Using the catch phrase heard in various media, the line brands itself the “King of Energy” drink. Newest to its line is a green tea flavored energy drink available in both regular and sugar free versions.
Socko’s energy lineup also channels its unique brand name in its line of products. The brand is the flagship for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Blissful Beverages, which defines the term ‘Socko’ as an adjective meaning “energetic, youthful, blissful and strikingly impressive.” The maker of the green-hued beverage most recently introduced Socko Slim, a sugar-free version.
The company also partnered with former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, for Hogan Energy Powered by Socko, as well as Worldwide Wrestling Entertain-ment for special event energy drinks. Socko produces limited-edition drinks for WWE events including RAW, SummerSlam and Wrestle-mania.
Coca-Cola announced at the National Association of Con-venience Store show in October it will launch Vault Red Blitz in March 2007. The new Berry-flavored energy/soft drink hybrid is for “guys with a ‘Get To It’ mentality,” company materials say.
This one’s for the ladies
Women need energy, too, and since it’s not seen as dainty to be slamming a 24-ounce energy drink while running about town, companies have created new drinks for females. The cans are not always pink (but mostly) and are usually smaller (but not always). Tab Energy has made an impact, resurrecting the diet soft drink brand for a female audience. Even masculine-named Bawls partnered its Guaranexx product with fashion week this fall in Miami and New York City.
“Healthy. Energy. Revitalizer,” this acronym spells out HER, the name of a female-oriented energy drink. Available in regular and sugar-free/no-carb versions, the drink has a “light, sweet and refreshing taste,” its Web site says. In addition to caffeine and taurine for energy, the drink also includes calcium, antioxidants and ginseng.
Makers of energy drink brand Rip It, National Beverages Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., have expanded the brand to introduce Rip It Chic. Chic’s sleek can features a removeable seal that attracted Teen People magazine’s Trendspotters at the recent National Association of Convenience Stores show in Las Vegas. One of two Grand Prize winners from the 13 to 24 aged panel, the seal was praised for keeping the can clean. Its flavors, reportedly designed by women for women, include Berry In-o-scent and Sin-a-man.
Boosting the size, Go Girl energy drink is available in a hot-pink 12-ounce can instead of the standard 8-ounce can. Each can packs 1,500-mg. of taurine, 150-mg. of caffeine, 150-mg. inositol and various vitamins. The cherry-flavored drink keeps with the pink theme by contributing a portion of its proceeds to breast cancer research.
For the not-so-girly girl, convenience store chain Circle-K launched the private label drink Vixen. The retailer targeted women with an edge by opting for a 16-ounce black can and a logo with attitude. The edgy energy drink comes in Citrus Passion and Foxberry flavors.
En español
The burgeoning Hispanic population in the United States is encouraging growth in many food and beverage categories, including energy drinks. While some are more targeted than others, Hispanic targeted drinks are ready to fuel this demographic niche. Caballo Negro by Distribuidores De La Energia Inc., Burlingame, Calif., is one of a few products to appeal with a Spanish name.
Uno Màs, by the company of the same name based in Long Beach, N.Y., features a mainly Spanish-language can but channels traditional soft drinks with its flavors. The line includes Cola, Naranja (Orange), Lima Limòn (Lemon-Lime), and Uva (Grape) flavored energy drinks. Meaning “one more” in Spanish, the line is available in 16-ounce cans.
Coca-Cola announced it is using the power of Mexican wrestling, or lucha libre in Spanish, for the latest addition to its Full Throttle line. Blue Demon is one of the sport’s most famous figures and now is the name of the new Full Throttle beverage. The drink, in Blue Agave flavor, will be the first in the Coca-Cola portfolio with bilingual packaging.
Well-known for its juices, Tampico Beverages, Chicago, made its debut in the energy category in July. The company recently was named the second “Up and Coming Brand” by Fortune Magazine. Its newest launch, Tampico Energy, features a citrus taste and bold graphics on its black and red 16-ounce can.
“Tampico Energy clearly wants to be the energy drink of choice for Hispanics and more specifically, Hispanic males,” says Richard Ross, vice president of marketing for Tampico. “The tagline ‘El Màs Bravo’ or very loosely translated as ‘The Fierce One’ is in Spanish, but it goes much deeper. The image on the can, a rooster, is an icon within the Hispanic culture, and it stands for being fierce, strong, brave and quick to act. Additionally, the flavor, citrus, is the No. 1 flavor among Hispanics and is based off our No. 1 flavor known around the world.”
Whole consumer
For those consumers who are nutrition-conscious and in need of a boost, companies are now taking notice. The newest niche on the market is energy drinks that appeal to the healthy-minded consumer. These beverages are most often smoothies that derive their energy sources from good old-fashioned fruits.
Naked Juice unveiled its energy smoothie line earlier this year to a good reception.
“We are ecstatic about its performance,” says Rachel Kenny, public relations and education manager for the Azusa, Calif., company. “We launched Orange Mango Motion and Strawberry Kiwi Kick in the spring of 2006. We knew it was a departure for the super-premium juice category so we thought we’d let it sit and see what happened. Within weeks Orange Mango Motion climbed into our Top 10. They are now the fastest-growing brand in the category.”
The company recently added Black & Blueberry Rush and Cherry Pomegranate Power to the lineup. All drinks carry Naked’s promise of one-pound of fruit in every bottle, in addition to 43 mg. of caffeine per serving and vitamins and minerals. Yet, it’s not like the typical energy drink.
“They have a clean nutritional profile,” Kenny says. “We wanted the consumer to understand what’s in it from the label. Maybe you don’t know what guarana is. On the label we tell you it’s a real berry from the Amazon that provides natural energy. We want you to know what you’re holding.”
Also appearing on shelves is a new product from Stonyfield Farm. The Londonderry, N.H.-based organic giant, announced Shift, an organic natural energy smoothie. Not only is organic a differentiator, the company is positioning the product as an “organic energy drink that provides a sustainable energy source for active teens and young adults.” Berry Boost, Power Punch and Strawberry Banana flavors are formulated to provide energy without caffeine and have a long list of nutrients to keep teens going.
In addition to the full-fledged fruit energy drinks, popular brands also are appealing to the healthy-minded-but-in-need-of-a-boost consumer by adding juice. Rockstar Juiced, Blue Sky Juiced, Fuze Vitalize and Kronik Entourage are all energy drink/juice hybrids.
Well-known energy drink brand BooKoo, Addison, Texas, will launch a 99-percent juice in mid-December. BooKoo Jügo contains passion fruit, papaya, white grape, orange and guava for a drink rich in super-fruit-derived antioxidants. The 16-ounce product, which means “juice” in Spanish, fills the morning and evening gaps of energy drink consumption, the company says. The company also recently repackaged its BooKoo energy waters under the product name Wet Vitamins.
Top energy drinks
(individual brands)
CATEGORY DOLLAR SALES (IN MILLIONS) % change vs. YEAR AGO UNIT SALES (IN MILLIONS) % change vs. YEAR AGO
RED BULL$261,775,90022.1%73,014,01012.5%
MONSTER$81,482,200118.2%33,575,91084.5%
ROCKSTAR$66,544,10076.1%27,518,17052.9%
FULL THROTTLE$40,489,760131.9%17,482,39091.0%
SOBE NO FEAR$31,977,19081.3%13,125,46058.2%
AMP$22,806,05020.5%8,912,37021.9%
SOBE ADRENALINE RUSH$18,887,170-7.5%6,618,589-17.5%
TAB ENERGY$11,445,890N/A4,221,840N/A
MONSTER XXL$4,781,6911,131.3%1,786,6741,073.3%
PRIVATE LABEL$4,692,075N/A4,132,957N/A
CATEGORY TOTAL$596,580,60047.8%225,520,90039.5%
Source: Information Resources Inc. total supermarket, drug and mass merchandise sales (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 8, 2006
To combat jitters, two companies are using ancient herbs as the basis for their drinks. Canadian company Sol Mate Beverage Group Ltd. uses South American herb Yerba Mate for its Sol Mate, organic sparkling mate energy beverage. The lightly carbonated beverage is available in Original and Lemon-Lime flavors and promises no jitters. Inko’s, New York, launched White Tea Energy, which it also promises will not cause jitters. It blends white and black tea caffeine to provide “sustained, balance alertness without shocking the system,” the company says.
Etcetera
The niches only continue in this growing category. Recent energy drinks have incorporated amateur racers, sports fans, and some that are way out there. NOS and Go Fast both appeal to amateur race fans with velocity-inspired drinks.
Being a fan can be exhausting and another new energy drink is providing fuel to stay in the game. Birmingham, Ala.-based Logo Sports’ Power Alley brand drinks have created a line of team-specific beverages to fuel cheers. Logo Sports’ President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Buchalter’s vision began with a bottled water for a favorite team of his, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Two years ago, the company developed Power Alley energy drinks with officially licensed collegiate logos.
“I’m a big sports fan and I was looking at things to do that involved sports,” Buchalter says. “The whole tailgating thing has switched to a family-oriented activity, and I was in the grocery store and noticed that mom and the kids were excluded in sports-related items. If they participate in tailgating, why can’t they have licensed super-premium consumables for various teams?”
Currently, fans of Alabama, Colorado State and Kansas State can fuel their cheering with the beverages. He says there are more teams on the way, including professional teams.
Las Vegas-based Redux Beverages is causing a stir with its recently released energy drink. It’s not because it claims to be 350 percent stronger than Red Bull. It’s because it is named Cocaine and is marketed as giving the user a six-hour “high.” The drink made headlines when it was banned from 7-Eleven stores in late October.
Going for quite another niche is Foxxy “The Original Prison Drink.” According to press materials, the product was developed by former inmate John “Shorty” Oldwine and is a take on the mix of tropical punch, coffee and sugar made by inmates to provide energy for workouts. Upon his release, Oldwine recreated his foxxy, which is slang for personal drink formula, to give him an energy fix while working at a restaurant in Ohio. The owner of the restaurant, Chad Treboniak, took notice of the drink and began selling it at the restaurant before bringing it to the public. Foxxy is currently available in Northeast Ohio.
The power of acai
It has been called a “super fruit.” The acai berry from the Amazon is now a star ingredient all over the industry. In energy drinks, it is popping up as a popular flavor, even though consumers may not properly know what it should taste like.
Hydrive, a spring water-based energy drink, featured the flavor of acai as one of its three debut flavors.
Shift organic natural energy drink from Stonyfield Farm includes acai in all three of its formulations to provide antioxidants.
Anheuser-Busch recently added 180 Blue Energy Drink with Acai to its line of 180 energy drinks. The non-alcohol beverage was recognized as innovative by new product database Productscan due to its mainstream appeal for the formerly sidelined berry.

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