There’s no doubting the success of the £461m energy drink sector (IRI Britvic data) but it is changing. For example, there’s been a big move to lower-sugar products to give consumers more choice, but now we are seeing the emergence of a new ’natural energy’ category.

Britvic’s recent Soft Drinks Report states that while natural energy is a small sub-sector at the moment, worth just £11.2m, it is experiencing 32% growth. And with HIM data stating that nearly a third of shoppers were likely to pay more for products with natural ingredient claims, there looks likely to be even more growth.

Purdey’s is currently the biggest brand in the sub-sector, worth £13m and showing 38% growth (Nielsen data).

The drink is currently backed by a new ’Energy as Nature Intended’ campaign including a TV ad. It shows how it is possible to get an energy lift from Purdeys, which is made from a blend of naturally sourced ingredients.

Brand owner Britvic says that by stocking Purdey’s, retailers will attract more shoppers looking for healthier energy solutions. The company’s out-of-home commercial director, Rachel Phillips, says: "Consumers are looking for energy drink options but, more than ever, they aren’t willing to compromise their health with some traditional variants. Purdey’s contains 50% real fruit juice, botanicals and B vitamins giving consumers a refreshing and revitalising lift which they can feel good about."

Himalayan hit

A newer brand that’s making waves is Tenzing, which is already being stocked in Tesco/Esso forecourts, M&S/BP sites, additional BP garages as well as in some independent forecourts.

Back in 2016, Tenzing founder Huib Van Bockel set out on a mission to change the face of energy. He found it odd that there wasn’t a way of achieving a ’lift’ with plants. While searching for ingredients he stumbled across a traditional Himalayan tea, which Sherpas use to fuel their high-altitude expeditions. Bockel travelled to Nepal to find out more and met the Tenzing family, descendants of one of the first two men to climb Mount Everest, Tenzing Norgay.

His story and these energising brews then became the inspiration for the drink; a plant-based triple-hit of natural caffeine, vitamin C and electrolytes. In all, it contains a blend of seven plant-based ingredients to deliver a refreshing taste of green tea, lemon juice and Indian gooseberries.

It comes in 250ml cans, with an rrp of £1.29.

Five per cent of Tenzing’s profits are donated to environmental projects. The first of these projects was set up in Nepal; a clean-up programme on the route up to Everest Basecamp, which has been suffering with a litter issue over the last decade. This year, Tenzing will focus its efforts on launching multiple environmental projects in the UK, its biggest market.

Another new drink to look out for is Runa, being brought to market by coconut water company Vita Coco.

It is described as having ’clean energy from the Guayusa leaf’. These leaves are found almost exclusively in the Amazonian forests of Ecuador.

The new drink comes in three flavours: Wild Berry, Blood Orange and Pineapple. Vita Coco says Runa ’wins’ on caffeine, sugar and taste.

It has more mg of caffeine per 100ml than any traditional or natural brand in the category; has the lowest amount of sugar per 100ml versus traditional formulations; contains no artificial sweeteners; contains only natural ingredients; and is below the sugar tax threshold.

In addition it is Fair Trade and organic, and the company works with and supports over 1,000 farming families who grow the Guayusa plants.

It is launching into Wholefoods and Ocado this month as well as into the Park Garage Group and Sainsbury’s forecourt stores. It comes in 355ml cans, rrp £1.49.

Remember the Pussy natural energy drink? Well the man behind that, Jonnie Shearer, has a new energy drink called Sunsoul.

It is made from spring water, natural fruit juice and botanical extracts (guarana, baobab and kola nut). Available in a Passion Fruit & Lychee flavour, it contains just 79 calories per can.

While ’natural energy’ drinks are new-to-market and definitely worth considering, it seems that there’s even more sales to be had from traditional energy drinks.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) recently conducted a major piece of research, which revealed there is an opportunity to grow the total soft drinks category by £1.4bn. And the convenience channel’s share of that growth could be worth £332m.

category drivers

The research highlighted six key category drivers and the six simple changes to shopper behaviour that could alter the value of the soft drink sector. One of these drivers was targeting active consumers. According to LRS, shoppers who lead increasingly ’active and effective’ lives seek soft drink solutions for mental and physical support and there is an increasing opportunity to get 15% more households to buy into drinks that support an active lifestyle. Drinks including energy, coffee and sports drinks targeted at active adults aged 35-45 offer a £330m opportunity. In convenience, this opportunity is worth £82m. LRS says these active consumers will be looking for drinks such as Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport, Red Bull and Monster.

Lucozade Energy is currently supported by a ’Spark Something’ £10m marketing campaign.

"The campaign will position the market-leading energy brand as one that sparks positive energy, broadening our appeal," explains Amie Farrell, senior brand manager for Lucozade Energy.

"We know Lucozade Energy holds a unique position in the market. The campaign enhances the positive aspects of the Lucozade Energy brand and emphasises our belief that the best things in life come from positive actions and a positive outlook. In doing so, we hope to communicate our relevance and appeal to more and more people."

Using a vinyl record, the campaign showcases how positive energy can be passed across generations and from person-to-person, inviting viewers to ’Spark Something’. It is being brought to life across TV, outdoor, social, digital and in-store marketing with a total media spend of more than £10m. Farrell says this substantial investment will continue to ensure the brand is front of mind for shoppers throughout the summer and beyond, helping retailers to drive sales in store.

Flavour growth

Lucozade Energy is currently growing by 8% across the market (IRI), with the flavours range driving particularly strong growth. Lucozade Energy Apple Blast was added to the range in January and more recently there’s been the launch of Watermelon & Strawberry Cooler.

LRS is driving awareness of its £54m flavours range with a dedicated £2m marketing campaign, the first media activity focusing on the flavours range in more than eight years.

The multi-channel campaign includes nationwide outdoor and digital advertising, social media and in-store activations to accelerate summer sales of this range, which is already growing at 47% year-on-year (IRI).

Eye-catching creatives showcase the brand’s number one flavour, Lucozade Energy Wild Cherry which is currently growing rapidly at 131%.

They also feature Lucozade Energy Apple Blast, which has already generated £6.6m in sales since its launch last August, as well as Caribbean Crush, worth over £12m. Meanwhile, the Lucozade Sport brand is supported by a £5m summer campaign which includes social, digital and out-of-home activity.

inner athlete

Over at Red Bull, which is growing by 15.1% in value and 8.9% in volume (IRI data), the brand is encouraging consumers to ’unleash their inner athlete’ with its latest campaign. Called Red Bull Project Pro, it aims to inspire those who want to elevate their fitness routines with advice from elite athletes. Six of the UK’s top athletes will offer a never-before-seen view of how they train and live their day-to-day lives. The campaign aims to drive positive associations with Red Bull across a range of diverse sporting occasions.

The campaign includes six limited edition cans featuring a range of bespoke on-pack wraps, each signed by, and illustrating one of the six athletes: rugby player, Jack Nowell; climber, Shauna Coxsey; cricketer, Ben Stokes; snowboarder, Billy Morgan; triathlete, Lucy Charles and hockey goalkeeper, Maddie Hinche MBE. Each was selected to reflect their commitment to the sports they represent, their unique training regimes and use of Red Bull as part of it.

Red Bull Project Pro will be supported by a multi-media marketing campaign, including a Ben Stokes TV ad aired during the Cricket World Cup, social media content, sampling in gyms and other sports locations, as well as in-store activation and promotional placements.

tips and tricks

To participate in the campaign, consumers will be directed to where they will be able to join a four-week programme via the Red Bull Project Pro Facebook Messenger Bot. It’s here where consumers gain exposure to athlete advice, receiving weekly tips and tricks from their matched athlete, ranging from nutrition to mental preparation to strength and conditioning.

Mark Bell, strategy and planning manager at Red Bull, says: "We are incredibly excited about Red Bull Project Pro. First and foremost, this campaign aims to inspire and motivate people who want to learn directly from professional athletes. It also aims to reinforce Red Bull’s relevance in sports and fitness while boosting consumers’ trust in the brand by showing professional athletes using it as a key part of their training routine."

Project Pro, which is Red Bull’s biggest activation on-can to date, will feature on all full sugar and sugar-free 250ml single cans and four-packs during the summer.

As for the Monster brand, last month the Wall Street Journal reported that owner, the Monster Beverage Corporation, is considering branching out into drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol. Coca-Cola owns 18.5% of Monster and the industry always expected the energy brand to become a subsidiary of the cola giant, however now that Coke has launched Coca-Cola Energy commentators are saying that looks less likely.

Coca-Cola European Partners’ (CCEP’s) new energy drink is supported by a summer-long campaign including a partnership with Spotify that allows listeners to enjoy a sponsored ’energy boosted’ playlist. In addition, more than 300,000 samples will be given out at festivals. The campaign will also target commuters in London and across Great Britain.

Stormzy partnership

Finally, CCEP has announced a new brand partnership for Relentless with grime artist, Stormzy. The partnership sees limited-edition Relentless Energy Origin cans featuring Stormzy’s official #Merky branding hit stores across the UK this month, supported by in-store pos and off-fixture displays.

A unique code on cans of Relentless Energy Origin, and the wider range including Apple Kiwi, Passion Punch, Cherry and Sour Apple, bought between now and September will give shoppers the chance to win a place on an ’ultimate fan experience’ taking place in the autumn.

Simon Harrison, vice president of commercial development at CCEP, says: "This is the biggest brand partnership and consumer promotion that we’ve ever done for Relentless.

"We know that Relentless fans are music lovers so partnering with one of the most renowned grime artists in London will help us to engage with more energy drinkers."

The partnership was announced at a convenience store-themed event, where Stormzy opened ’#Merky News’ in the heart of Soho and revealed the #Merky Relentless Can.

Stay alert with Blockhead gum

Blockhead energy gum starts to work in just five minutes, making it a convenient, sugar- and calorie-free alternative for consumers seeking an energy boost or vitamin hit. It contains caffeine, ginseng, niacin, vitamins B1, B6 and B12 and folic acid.
Blockhead’s communications manager, Alex Goodman, says the brand’s key consumer is hard to pin down: "We offer the tangible benefit of delivering caffeine fast, so our target consumer is anyone who wants to feel awake quickly.
"For this reason, we see a lot of drivers turning to the product as, unlike coffee and energy drinks which take up to 30 minutes to kick in, Blockhead works in only five minutes and doesn’t contain liquid so there is no need for loo breaks."
The gum sells best in stores when it is placed next to the checkout, near the other chewing gum. Goodman says the ’Stay Alert’ carton design makes the product really stand out and lets people know that Blockhead is more than just a chewing gum.
"We have an ’Accelerated Caffeine Absorption’ shopper-kit campaign running in stores at the moment to educate people on the potency of the gum, this comprises counter mats, wobblers, carton stickers and window clings.
"Any retailers that are interested in getting their hands on one of our free shopper kits should email and we will post one out to them.
"We are also currently trialling petrol pump ad nozzles and also digital screens."
Blockhead energy gum is currently stocked in all MFG and MRH stores nationwide, as well as in 160 Morrisons forecourts.

Too tasty to share

With consumers looking to get their energy from a range of sources, you should definitely take a look at the Perkier range of bars and bites.
Perkier Bites came first, in three flavours: Cacao & Peanut; Cacao & Orange; and Salted Caramel. They are 100% plant-based, gluten, wheat and dairy free, contain no palm oil and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They are high in fibre, rich in essential vitamins and minerals and contain 6g of protein per bag. Rrp is £1.50.
A more recent addition to the Perkier range are two bars: Cacao & Salted Caramel and Cacao & Orange. The company describes them as the UK’s first prebiotic bars. They contain 5g of chicory root fibre, which is scientifically proven to enhance gut health and have 6g of protein.
They contain less than 140 calories per bar and have less than 5g added sugar per bar. Rrp is 95p per 35g bar.
The products are backed by a ’Too tasty to share’ campaign which encompasses social media, press advertising and sampling.
Both the bars and bites are already stocked by MFG.

Retailer view

"We recently relaid our energy drinks cooler adding the new Coca Cola Energy and the full Monster range. We also added an impulse cooler for Monster elsewhere in the store. The change has worked well and sales are well up on last year. When we first stocked Coca Cola Energy, we put it next to Coke but it didn’t sell well; when we moved it next to other energy drinks it sold much better. Our best sellers are Red Bull and Boost. Red Bull is sometimes on offer but we still sell it at the same price and keep the margin."

Grenade shakes up the market

The UK protein bar category is now valued at £65m in the UK and is growing at a very healthy 22% per annum (IRI). Grenade claims to be the driving force behind this growth, contributing to 80% of this increase.
The brand’s Carb Killa snacking range, featuring protein bars, shakes and spreads, has been developed based on three key values: health, taste and innovation. The company says it is these values that have led Grenade to become the UK’s leading protein bar brand and a crucial player within the market.
Grenade says 80% of shoppers are new to this highly profitable category; driving incremental sales in stores. Since the 2015 launch of Carb Killa, the product has quickly evolved, with over 12 protein bar flavours now available. Each bar offers up to 23g of protein, the equivalent of drinking three glasses of milk. The latest flavours of bars are Dark Chocolate Raspberry (suitable for vegetarians) and White Chocolate Salted Peanut.
In the shakes range there is the new Carb Killa Strawberries & Cream flavour. Best served chilled, each 330ml shake delivers 25g of protein and is low in sugar, designed to provide balanced complete sources of protein while limiting the level of processed refined sugars.
Grenade’s CEO and founder, Alan Barrett, comments: "We like to shake up the market and this new addition to our Carb Killa protein shake range is different from our other flavours.
"It’s the perfect on-the-go treat or post-workout snack for busy consumers who want a high-protein drink without the carbs or calories."