You might have thought that having reached more than £1bn-worth of sales, the energy drinks category would have run out of steam but no, it's still growing. According to the latest Nielsen data (MAT Jan 3, 2015), the market is powering ahead at 3%, which might not sound a lot but it's still more than the total soft drinks market.
"Energy drinks are a must-stock for forecourts, catering to the requirements of drivers looking to help maintain concentration levels on long journeys," says Adrian Troy, head of marketing for AG Barr. "It is essential that forecourt retailers give enough space to the overall energy category and also to the sub-segments which are catering for the ever-changing needs of UK shoppers." Those sub-segments include low or no sugar more of which later. But now that most of the relevant consumers know exactly what an energy drink can do for them, it's flavours that are really driving the market.
Red Bull reports a "fantastic first year" for its Editions range, so much so that it is adding a tropical Edition, available in 250ml, price-marked and four-pack variants. Ed Whitehead, strategy and planning manager at Red Bull UK, says: "The Red Bull tropical Edition will help to build momentum into the flavours segment as well as offer fantastic stand-out on-shelf with the distinctive yellow can and tropical taste a hugely popular flavour following the recent focus on Brazil."
The introduction will be supported by a comprehensive marketing campaign including activity on social media and sampling to over 50,000 people at key summer occasions, including Red Bull's own events.
Despite fierce competition, the brand is growing ahead of the category at 6% volume and 3% value. This is being driven by symbols and independents, up 16% and 8% respectively in volume (IRI data).
Lucozade has a great track record with new flavours. Indeed according to Nielsen data, new variants from Lucozade Energy delivered £18m in value within the sports and energy category last year alone.
Its latest new flavour is a special- edition Lucozade Energy in grafruitti flavour described as a combination of mixed berries and citrus flavours with an exotic twist.
Its launch builds on the brand's previous success with exotic twists. Lucozade Energy Caribbean crush has been a firm favourite with shoppers, achieving a 161% value sales increase in the past year (Nielsen). Lucozade Ribena Suntory says that with the launch of grafruitti, it aims to disrupt shoppers and encourage impulse purchasing.
Lucozade marketing director, Corrine Hopwood, says: "Although sports and energy is the largest segment within the soft drinks category, delivering the highest incremental sales in the impulse channel, there is still potential for further growth. With 53% of shoppers within the segment classed as 'light energy users', there is a significant opportunity to drive frequency among them."
She continues: "More than 300 new products were launched into the market last year so it's essential to back the right NPD to successfully grow sales. With brand new point of sale to help retailers drive awareness of Lucozade Energy grafruitti in-store, we are confident that this launch will be another winner with shoppers. The product has tested well in consumer research, with 84% purchase intent from 16-45 year-olds, proving there is a broad market for energy brands and the opportunity to drive penetration and frequency.
"We understand that launching new flavours is critical to continuing market growth, with taste and flavour acting as key drivers of purchase intent when shopping within the sports and energy category.
"Our launches are driven from consumer insight and we have seen the excitement generated when launching new variants, particularly through social channels. Acting on this, we will continue innovating and investing in NPD as the year goes on."
Special Edition Lucozade Energy grafruitti is available in three key formats for impulse retailers: 380ml price-marked at 95p; 380ml, rrp 95p; and 500ml rrp £1.15.
Meanwhile, independents-only brand Boost's latest flavour launches are sugar-free pink lemonade as well as citrus zing and exotic fruits. The three variants are all available in 500ml PET bottles at 79p and 250ml cans at 49p.
AG Barr's Troy says flavour is a key motivating factor for shoppers, and consumers love Rockstar because it doesn't define how an energy drink should taste. "The brand offers the biggest choice with a wide variety of 12 exciting flavours with vibrant packaging. Among core energy drinkers, Rockstar is sought out as a better tasting energy drink with consumers really connecting with the range of flavours."
The brand has become well known for its NPD and added three successful new variants to its range in 2014 alone (Pure zero, Supersours blue raspberry and Xdurance electric fruits). However, its latest launch is a real departure merging two big soft drink categories to create Rockstar Energy Waters.
"We've listened to energy drinks fans and there's huge demand for a product that delivers a full energy hit but feels more natural and lighter than traditional energy drinks," explains Troy.
"Rockstar Energy Waters will bring new consumers into the energy category and the refreshing, lighter nature of the products, combined with a fantastic taste, will also open up new consumption occasions such as lunchtimes."
Two flavours are available: blueberry, pomegranate & acia and peach, both in a 355ml size can. Troy says both researched extremely well, with 85% of consumers saying that they would buy them. They deliver a full hit of energy with high caffeine content from a natural source and a special vitamin blend, but have 50% less sugar and calories per 100ml than the 500ml standard Rockstar Energy cans.
"We're really confident that Rockstar Energy Waters will fuel major category growth in 2015, attracting new shoppers to the category and reinforcing Rockstar's reputation for innovation and flavour within the dynamic energy drinks market," adds Troy.
To maximise this sales opportunity, Troy advises forecourt retailers to position Rockstar Energy Waters between standard energy drinks and water.
Over at Coca-Cola Enterprises, trade communications manager, Dave Turner, also points to the success of 'Energy +' sub-brand variants, such as energy+soda or energy+tea: "This again shows the desire for increased choice within the sector. The Monster Energy range has continued to expand, with new variants including Monster Assault, which was launched last year in GB after its success throughout Europe."
Monster is indeed a monster brand, with Nielsen data revealing growth of 11.6% in the past year, taking sales through the £100m barrier.
And Turner says sales across the Relentless range grew by 13.6% in independent and symbol retailers in 2014 after a series of strong marketing campaigns, including the Relentless Ultra Presents Soundchain TV show on MTV Music, which helped to drive sales with young adults.
"As innovation has also played a key part in the growth of the Relentless brand, we were really excited to launch a new cherry variant last year which has proved popular and is helping retailers to drive incremental growth.
"We also responded to feedback from Relentless fans and relaunched the Relentless sugar free variant as Relentless Origin Ultra to make the low-calorie messaging less prominent on-pack. With light options continuing to be a driving force behind the growth of energy drinks, the relaunch has worked well for the brand."
Low or no sugar lines are performing well. "As people look for different energy drinks that meet different needs, forecourt operators should consider stocking both regular and lights variants to make sure they are offering enough choice for shoppers," says Turner.
There's a new mango flavour in the Relentless zero calorie range, to help retailers capitalise on the growing popularity of lower calorie energy drinks.
"Lights have proven to be increasingly popular in the energy drinks sector and are now growing twice as fast as regular variants," says Turner.
"Low-calorie variants are growing by 23% year-on-year (Nielsen)," adds Troy. "The low-calorie energy market is currently worth £31m and we estimate it will grow to £200m over the next five years. However, there is currently little consumer choice available in this growing sector and Rockstar Pure Zero fulfils both the demand for a low-calorie option and the demand for great-tasting flavoured energy. It is available in a 500ml big can format in our popular fruit punch flavour, offering the full Rockstar energy hit with zero sugar."
Boost sales director, Al Gunn, adds: "To date, barriers to further growth have been calories and taste.
"As a result, Boost invested considerable time and money developing sugar-free pink lemonade. This drink has a fresh, fruity taste and the re-sealable PET bottle has just under 10 calories. The 250ml can has just five calories.
"Since the launch of sugar-free pink lemonade, Boost's total sugar-free sales have gone through the roof, up 61% (Boost volume sales MAT December 2014)."
Finally, Turner says that with sales of future consumption packs growing by 13.5% in independents and symbols, energy drinks are no longer just an impulse buy for some shoppers, as they are increasingly looking for larger pack formats that can be taken home.
"It's a trend likely to continue into 2015, and something we've responded to with the recent launch of the resealable Mega Monster can."
Mega Monster is a new format of the best-selling Monster Energy (green) can with a re-sealable cap.
It's available in a 553ml size and has been designed to allow consumers to keep their can with them and enjoy their drink over longer periods rather than drinking it all in one go.
"It follows the success of resealable Monster SKUs in the US and South Africa, and responds to consumer research that shows almost three-quarters of UK energy drinks consumers like the idea of a re-sealable can, something that is particularly relevant to forecourt
With younger adults the key target audience for energy drinks, any on-pack promotions tend to be geared towards music and gaming.
No Fear, for instance, continues with its music download on-pack campaign which offers a free music download with every purchase.
It's extremely popular and the brand reports that every seven minutes a No Fear track is downloaded for free.
To claim their free music track, customers collect the unique code under the ringpull of each promotional can and visit the accompanying micro-site www.nofearfreemusic.com.
Each code allows the listener to pick from a huge list of 10,000 pre-defined tracks, with each track worth 99p. Bands on the list include Bastille and Keane.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Enterprises says the Monster Call of Duty partnership has proven popular with shoppers, and the gaming link continues with Monster supporting the latest release in the Call of Duty franchise Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Trade communications manager, Dave Turner, says: "Through the Call of Duty promotion, which runs until May, consumers can earn gaming currency to progress more quickly through the game, unlocking new weapons and specialist skills.
"Special ringpull cans and multipack promotions offer consumers a guaranteed instant win, giving retailers the opportunity to drive sales."
helping you Boost sales
Bad Things Happen When You're Tired is the theme of Boost's latest advertising campaign. Using humour, the energy drinks brand will be highlighting the negative situations that can arise when people are not sufficiently alert.
The campaign will run across consumer advertising, point of sale, sampling events, PR and social media.
Boost managing director, Simon Gray, says: "We are looking to recruit new drinkers to our brand by grabbing their attention and then hitting them with our proposition great taste at a great price. This campaign will raise consumers' awareness of our existence, we believe, which will in turn drive trial."
The Bad Things Happen campaign is part of Boost's commitment to its Champion Of The Independents initiative, whereby the brand's products are not available in any multiples. Boost then provides sales support to independents with a whole host of marketing activity.
Other initiatives for 2015 include consumer promotions, merchandising, retailer competitions and Boost's biggest-ever nationwide sampling campaign targeting millions of students in conjunction with helloU.
Merchandising energy drinks together, towards the centre of the chiller, can help achieve optimum sales as it reflects their position as one of the most popular sectors of the soft drinks category.
Easy shopping and a choice are key for the consumer. We recommend that forecourts help make shopping for energy drinks simple and convenient by stocking different variants of the same brand next to one another.
Priced-marked packs continue to play a strong role in forecourt outlets by giving a greater perception of value to the consumer.
Stocking a mix of premium and value brands helps to offer a choice of price points to suit different shoppers.
Original varieties are recommended as a core offering, with a selection of different flavours or variations to cater for different tastes.
With more consumer demand for low-calorie or sugar-free energy drinks, forecourt retailers can maximise sales by stocking a selection of these extensions of existing best-selling energy brands.
Keeping the drinks chilled will help meet the needs of consumers who buy energy drinks while on the move.
An increasing number of consumers are also purchasing drinks for future consumption so stocking multi-packs will help retailers take advantage of this growing trend.
Source: Coca-Cola Enterprises
"MPK stores typically serve a very wide cross-section of consumers including tradesmen, shift workers, students and salesmen on the road. Consequently, the energy category is key.
"Since introducing Boost as a cheaper option to Red Bull, incremental sales have grown at over 11%. Some stores are selling up to three cases a day of the new 49p SKUs.
"We stock original, sugar free, exotic fruits and sugar-free pink lemonade varieties in the 250ml can, along with the 1ltr original as a take-home line.
Boost Sport is then available at selected sites. By adding Boost to our offer, we seem to be recruiting new consumers of energy drinks. We promote the lines with shelf wobblers and barkers, but the price-marked packs (PMPs) themselves also help with sales promotion and merchandising.
"We find the 49p PMP attracts people to the brand and then the great taste brings them back.
"Also, Boost's Champion Of The Independents initiative sits very well with us it is fantastic that we can offer products not available in the grocery multiples."
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