The Energy Enigma
By JENNIFER ZEGLER
Sales of energy drinks are slowing but new products are not deterred
Recent sales figures show the energy drink category may be beyond its peak. Sales data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, show the category’s rapid growth may be slowing. Figures from last year boasted 54 percent increase in sales over 2005, while this year a lower 34 percent improvement was shown in food, drug and mass merchandise channels, excluding Wal-Mart.
The minimal decline in sales for the Top 10 brands, which include major players such as Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and SoBe, is not reflected in new product launches. A little more than 200 new energy drinks were launched since July 2006, according Mintel’s Global New Product Database. More than half of those were launched since November, when Beverage Industry last reported on the category.
Yet, energy drink makers are not intimidated by the vast range of products in the marketplace. Instead, manufacturers continue to create new brands that speak to unique demographics as well as individual consumers. Whether through brand name, formulation, flavor, packaging or marketing, the mass of new beverages released this year have included a personal appeal.
|Top 10 energy drinks
|% change vs.
|% change vs.
|SOBE NO FEAR
|SOBE ADRENALINE RUSH
|MONSTER ENERGY XXL
|Source: Information Resources Inc., Chicago, Total food, drug and mass merchandise outlets (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending June 17, 2007.
Consumers these days have a number of ways of showing their allegiance to their favorite obsession, be it a sport, athlete or celebrity. Cheering them on or seeing their work no longer will do, as fans can now wear their clothes, smell like them and now drink like them.
Fans of action stars Steven Seagal and Jackie Chan can channel the stars’ power through their respective branded energy drinks. Basketball player Carmelo Anthony debuted his own C1.5 Extreme Energy Drink in the Las Vegas market this year. Musician Jimi Hendrix’s name and image are featured on the packaging of Voodoo Vibe energy drink. Made by the Liquid Experience Group division of Beverage Concepts LLC, Los Angeles, the drink is said to be “labeled with the charge of peace, love and purpose.”
Los Angeles-based Socko Energy moved from last year’s deal with former wrestler Hulk Hogan into a sponsorship with World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw events. The WWE Raw Attitude beverage is available in Taurine and Slammin’ Citrus variations. It is available nationwide as well as at WWE Raw events. The company also featured its sponsorship of Arizona’s Tempe Music Festival, held in March, on its cans.
This year, multiple companies tapped the NASCAR fan base. Pepsi formed a deal with Jeff Gordon for a limited-edition beverage called 24 High Octane. Restaurant chain Hooters also tied its energy drink in with its NASCAR sponsorship. Initially launched in January with packaging featuring its waitresses, the company redesigned the can with a diamond plate aluminum pattern to tie in with its No. 7 Hooters Energy Pennington Motorsports Chevy Silverado in March.
Also making the NASCAR connection is a rookie from DC Brands International, Denver. Turn Left Energy Drink appeals to racecar fans with its bright packaging featuring the racecars. On its Web site, turnleftenergy.com, the brand offers racing headlines and video highlights.
Fans of another motorized spectator sport, reality TV series “American Chopper,” can also fuel themselves with an energy drink. The cable television show documents the custom motorcycle shop run by the Teutul family in Montgomery, N.Y. Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co., Denver, formed a partnership with Orange County Choppers after it found out the company’s founder and TV star, Paul Teutul Senior, was a fan.
“Paul Teutul Sr. started drinking Go Fast on his own,” explains Troy Widgery, president of Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co. “Then they built us a bike. They all drink Go Fast in the shop, which they did before our partnership.”
An episode of the TLC series featured the process of building and launching the Go Fast custom chopper motorcycle. The Orange County Choppers Energy drink is available at Wal-Mart stores.
For fans of two-wheel bikes with less horsepower, Bawls Gaurana recently partnered with American Bicycle Association and the National Bicycle League for limited-edition four-packs of its energy drink. The package offers consumers a complimentary race pass that gains them access to one full day of BMX racing at participating tracks. Four-packs from the Miami-based company will be available at Target stores.
Though many brands have a unisex appeal, some companies are focusing on women with new energy drinks. These feminine formulations often have pretty packaging, added vitamins and minerals and better-for-you appeal.
“I started doing work in the beverage sector a couple of years ago and I noticed women are undervalued and not represented in the energy drink category,” says Brett Jacobson, chief executive officer of Her energy drink, Hollywood, Calif. “Beverage companies think their audience is mainly men and that women are a niche group. They are 50.1 percent of the population and do 70 percent of the consumable goods purchasing.”
Inspired by his research, Jacobson created Her energy drink, which launched last year. He developed the product with a Pink Lemonade flavor and formulated it to provide sustained energy. The product also appeals beyond female consumers, he says. “I don’t know many parents who would give their kids Pimp Juice on the way to school in the morning, but I know parents who give their kids Her.”
As for line extensions, the company is planning Her Baby, which is formulated with nutritional content expectant and nursing mothers need.
“It will be an energy drink without the caffeine; we’re using a caffeine substitute,” Jacobson says. “It will taste good and replace the Ensure that women reach for to get nutrition.”
Known for its fruit and vegetables, Del Monte, San Francisco, entered the energy drink category in May with Bloom Energy. With a mission to “Spread good energy,” Bloom offers women a fruit-based energy drink featuring 100 percent of Vitamin C, five B vitamins, and is a good source of calcium and vitamin D. The product focuses on busy women and moms in its marketing campaign. Bloom is available in Wild Berry, Cran Raspberry and Mango Passionfruit flavors and is caffeinated with antioxidant-rich white tea extract.
For women involved in extreme sports, California’s Damzl Inc. created Damzl Fuel energy drink. Created by off-road motorcycling sisters, Heather Birdwell and Holly Gorrell, Damzl fuel comes in a not too girly pink package and is fortified with B vitamins. The drink is available on the West Coast.
The new exotic
Exotic flavors hint at the potential influence from other parts of the world. This year, Power Trip released a Mango flavor and 180 by Anheuser-Busch added Acaí and Goji flavors to its lineup. This month, Coca-Cola’s Full Throttle added Mother, an Acaí flavor to its popular lineup of 16-ounce drinks. The product has an extended tagline of “nature is one bad mother.”
The popularity of flavors native to exotic locales is just one hint to the popularity of ethnic products. Cintron Liquid Energy, Philadelphia, uses ethnic-inspired flavors in its products. Its Energy Enhancer line includes Tropical Azul, Pineapple Passion and regular and sugar-free Citrus Mango flavors. The company also offers a Cintron line of Green Tea beverages. Original and Diet flavors feature ginseng and honey, which also appear in its Pomegrante, Mango and Guava Passionfruit offerings.
Launched in flavors such as Mandarin and Tamarind, Potencia energy drink was created by a Latino company for Latino consumers. The beverage launched this summer and is made by DLR Associates Inc., Mooreseville, N.C. Its bilingual packaging and ethnic flavors aim to appeal to Latinos from all origins.
Another tropical superfruit, noni, has been leveraged in an energy drink. Tahitian Noni International, Orem, Utah, used the fruit and added guarana, B vitamins and amino acids for an exotic fruit boost in Hiro energy. The product is available in 8.3-ounce cans.
Inspired by nature
As the natural category grows, many energy drink makers have embraced the trend releasing natural formulations to appeal to the concerned consumer. This year Kronik, BooKoo and Rockstar all introduced juice and energy hybrids. The juicy introductions have attracted consumers to the category, with Rockstar Juiced entering the No. 9 spot in sales in convenience stores according to IRI data.
Ronin offers one serving of fruit and vegetables in its regular and diet varieties. A 16-ounce serving also is fortified with more than 23 vitamins and minerals, explains Jeff Nachreiner, sales and marketing “warrior” for the Wisconsin-based company. Ronin LLC plans to extend its lineup of “Positive Liquid Synergy” in the coming year, he explains.
Both known for their pick-me-up qualities, coffee and tea have become popular bases for new energy drink offerings. Monster Beverage Co., a division of Hansen Natural, introduced its Java Monster in June. The newest line extension from the No. 2 energy drink brand features coffee flavors such as Big Black, Mean Bean and Loca Moca.
“Up to this point the choice of ready-to-drink coffees has been small – literally,” said Geoff Bremmer, brand manager for Monster Energy, in a statement. “Like a lot of people, I enjoy coffee, but the current offering is a little soft and doesn’t reflect the lifestyle of a number of coffee drinkers. That said, we’re excited to introduce Java Monster – a big 15-ounce can of coffee and cream, pumped-up with the aggressive attitude and functionality of Monster Energy.”
Tea has been featured as a star ingredient in many energy drink releases. G Pure Energy from Voss included green tea in its newest Orange Blossom flavor as well as its initial G Pure Energy offering. In December, popular tea brand Arizona released its Green Tea Energy Drink. In addition to the regular formulation, the Lake Success, N.Y. company also launched a diet and Lite Pomegranate variety.
Inko’s White Tea Energy promotes the “jitter-free” benefits of its white tea base. The ginger and lemon-flavored energy drink also creates a point of difference by being 100 percent natural. Inko’s hopes to tap into a new consumer base, explains Andy Schamisso, founder of the Englewood, N.J.-based company.
“The Red Bull kids are growing up and joining the health-conscious beverage consumer who is demanding natural, lower-calorie products that don’t shock the system,” Schamisso says. “Inko’s was ahead of the curve in the ready-to-drink white tea segment and are, again, in at the beginning of this new ‘good for you’ energy category.”
A new demographic also is a focus for Steaz Energy. Eric Schnell, co-founder of The Healthy Beverage Co., Newtown, Pa., explains its certified organic, Fair Trade and kosher green tea and yerba maté-based energy drink extends its appeal. He explains the beverage is popular with consumers who are concerned about eco-friendly products.
“We attract people who are traditionally not the energy drink consumer,” Schnell explains.
Steaz Energy has found a home in natural foods stores and on college campuses where “green” products are attracting attention. Schnell also says the beverage is being home delivered to a few eco-conscious celebrities. The company redistributes 10 percent of its earnings back to charitable causes. New flavor extensions of Lime, Orange and Diet Organic Berry will launch nationally through Whole Foods stores in the coming months.
Early this summer, Texas’ Organic Beverage Co. rolled out Syzmo. The Blue Agave flavored drink is certified USDA Organic and is made with coffee fruit, guarana, green tea and yerba maté. It also has a low glycemic index rating of 30. The drink launched in original Blue Agave flavor, Passion and Prickly Pear.
The category continues to expand its appeal with new products launched all the time. The competitive nature of the category does not allow for much information on products in the pipeline. Yet a few companies hint a something big in the works, such as Go Fast. Widgery says the sports and beverage company has a “pretty revolutionary product” that might create a new category in the works.
|Top 10 energy drinks sold in convenience stores
|% change vs.
|SOBE NO FEAR
|MONSTER ENERGY XXL
|SOBE ADRENALINE RUSH
|Source: Information Resources Inc., Chicago, Total convenience store sales for the 52 weeks ending June 17, 2007.
More than just energy
As the category has grown, brands have entered the fold that promise benefits beyond an energy boost. Here’s a sample of brands with added functionality:
• Enhanced brain focus and memory retention. The possibly properly named Nerd promises better mental function in its energy drink. Its special blend was created by a team consisting of a medical student, engineering student and entrepreneur from San Antonio, Texas.
• Stimulation. Billed as the “Ultimate Pleasure Beverage” by Fever Beverage USA, Philadelphia, the beverage’s blend of herbs includes horny goat weed and panax ginseng and provides veiled benefits to either gender.
• Rehabilitation. Rehab Recovery Supplement offers its berry-flavored formula to assist consumers in refreshing, recovering and reviving. The product, made by Englewood, N.J.’s Rehab Beverage LLC, contains green tea, coenzyme Q10 and 300 percent of daily vitamin B6.
• Anti-energy. In a contradiction to the category, Malava introduced Relax, which contains the southern pacific herbal root kava. The California company offers a line of juice blends in Orange Mango, Pink Lemonade and decaffeinated Black Tea, all with calming effects.