Gatorade's Fast Twitch is the first-ever caffeinated energy drink designed for athletes.
The sports energy drink segment is also booming, with co-branded products and sports celebrity connections becoming more common.
Megabrand Gatorade, a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, made category news when it introduced Fast Twitch, the first-ever caffeinated energy drink designed for athletes. The drinks contain a whopping 200 milligrams of caffeine, along with electrolytes, 100% of the daily value of vitamins B6 and B12, zero sugar, and no artificial flavors or colors. Fast Twitch debuted with an exclusive NFL deal that gave players access to the new product before launch — a move that created plenty of buzz for the new product.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Splash Beverage Group followed with an expansion of its TapouT Hydration into the energy drink category. Formulated by elite performance nutritionist Sanjeev Javia in collaboration with TapouT ambassador and former NFL player Drew Brees, the product features a zero-sugar, all-natural ingredient mix to deliver enhanced cognitive performance, mental focus and antioxidant health, in addition to physical benefits.
Sports nutrition and lifestyle brand Bucked Up, based in American Fork, Utah, expanded its energy drink lineup with LFG Burn, a performance energy drink modeled after the brand’s LFG Burn Pre-Workout supplement powder. This expansion also includes four new candy-inspired flavors available in Bucked Up’s original energy drink line.
While sport-centric products are making inroads in the category, Mintel also sees a niche opportunity for gamer energy drinks. Currently a small segment of the total market, brands such as West Babylon, N.Y.-based G FUEL and Green Bay, Wis.-based Rogue Energy are poised for strong growth, “considering gaming’s ubiquity among young consumers,” a recent Mintel report observes.
If increased segmentation isn’t enough to crowd supermarket shelves, manufacturers are also continuing to add new flavor profiles and limited-edition flavors to hold consumers’ interest. Category leader brands are rolling out limited-edition flavors with a seasonal spin. Most recently, Red Bull, whose North American headquarters is in Santa Monica, Calif., added a Summer Edition Juneberry flavor, while Corona, Calif.-based Monster Energy debuted a Kiwi Strawberry addition to its signature Monster Reserve line.
“While traditional flavors like lemonade and fruit punch are popular among consumers, creating unique and elevated twists on the classics or exploring new flavor trends can set a product apart from the competition,” says Jel Sert’s Harrington. “We’re seeing true fruit flavors and emerging fruit confections trending, with flavors such as Dragon Fruit, Elderberry, Jackfruit and Blue Raspberry becoming more popular, so we are developing new products that incorporate these flavor profiles.” Recent offerings from the brand include Jolly Rancher Green Apple and Jolly Rancher Blue Raspberry flavors.
Product proliferation is certainly an issue for retailers. Talking Rain, for one, is making an effort to control new introductions and zero in on products that will prove to be winners.
“With the proliferation of so many new beverage options, distributors and retailers want more proven products,” says Wilcox. “They are looking to reduce the risk of new brands and products, increasing the odds of maximizing on-shelf revenue.”
To that end, the company launched I.C.E. Labs last year, a “test and learn” program that moves product from limited store trials to multimarket tests using in-store sampling and consumer “voting.”
“Through detailed in-store feedback, we are able to make adjustments to our products and put them back out in the market to gauge the impact,” explains Wilcox. “The key benefit of this program is a more pressure-tested and proven product.”