Even though volume and dollar share of the market for energy drinks dwarf their smaller counterparts, energy shots are continuing their growing popularity. The category grew by 39 percent to $780.7 million for the 52 weeks ending June 13, 2010, in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores, gas and convenience stores, and mass merchandise retailers, excluding Wal-Mart, according to SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago.

That growth is expected to continue, as Mintel International, Chicago, forecasts energy shot sales to increase 147 percent in current prices from 2010 to 2015. “The segment has benefitted from consumers’ desire for an energy boost that is less filling and has less sugar,” Mintel reports in its “July 2010 Energy Drinks and Energy Shots” report.

For the most part, consumers drink energy drinks and shots to get a jolt of energy, Mintel says. But the market research firm has found that energy drinks are more likely to be consumed for taste and refreshment, while energy shots are consumed more for their functionality. About 80 percent of energy shot consumers drink them for an energy boost, compared to about 71 percent of energy drink consumers, the research firm reports.

“The major difference between energy shots and drinks is that shots focus more on convenience,” Mintel reports. “They are aimed at people who do not want to spend the time or calories to consume an entire 8- to 16-ounce beverage.”

Mintel’s research helps explain the strength of Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Living Essentials LLC’s 5-Hour Energy in the category. The brand, which markets itself as a pick-me-up for working professionals, accounts for 81.8 percent of the energy shot category with $638.6 million in sales during the time period, according to SymphonyIRI.

“I think that 5-Hour is different from Hitman and the other types of shots out there that have an energy drink brand as their umbrella that they’re falling under,” says Richard Haffner, industry manager for Euromonitor International, Chicago. “… 5-Hour Energy is a different target.”

By appealing to working adults instead of teenagers and young adults, 5-Hour Energy has cornered a segment of the market that other energy shot companies are not targeting, says Carl Sperber, director of corporate communications at Living Essentials.

“I think the message we’ve managed to create has really worked to capture those people,” Sperber says. “They’re a little older, so they take a little more convincing. … It’s for work. It helps you feel better. It helps you get over that afternoon slump, which is almost a universal feeling.”

Living Essentials does not produce an energy drink, opting instead to focus its efforts exclusively on the energy shot category, Sperber says. The company saw sales increase by 48.5 percent during the time period for 5-Hour Energy, according to SymphonyIRI.

Many energy drink companies have crossed over into the shot category. Last year, Red Bull released a 2-ounce energy shot that became the second largest product in the category with $38.3 million in sales during the time period, according to SymphonyIRI data.

Monster has had similar success with its 3-ounce Hitman energy shot also introduced last year. Hitman grew 35.1 percent to $18.1 million in sales during the time period. Rockstar, which is the third highest grossing energy drink company, saw sales of its 2.5-ounce energy shot slide 30.7 percent to $5.8 million during the time period, according to SymphonyIRI.

Stacker2’s 6 Hour Power energy shot, the third largest-grossing product in the category, saw sales drop by 3.9 percent to $28.8 million during the time period, according to SymphonyIRI. The shot comes in six varieties: Extra Strength Grape, Extra Strength Pomegranate, Very Berry, Punch, Watermelon, Grape, Orange and Lemon Lime.

VPX Redline Power Rush grew by 3.9 percent during the time period to $4.7 million in sales. The 2.5-ounce shot includes two servings, and the company says the shot will give the consumer seven hours of energy. VPX Redline Power Rush is available in five flavors: Wild Grape, Lime, Peach Mango, Mandarin Orange and Exotic Fruit.

Private label energy shots also experienced strong growth during the time period, though they remain a small share of the category. Sales of private label energy shots increased by 277.6 percent to $3.9 million during the time period, according to SymphonyIRI. BI