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Energy Drink Market Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Shoppers continue to search for healthier alternatives to improve physical and cognitive performance
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Energy Drink Market Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
Inspired by the land Down Under with more than 10,000 beaches, Juice Monster Aussie Style Lemonade comes in a colorful can adorned with ocean graphics reminiscent of the Great Barrier Reef.

Whether pumping iron at the gym, preparing for weekend activity or simply trying to stay alert during busy workweeks, busy consumers continue to reach for energy beverages to provide a physical and mental boost. 

According to Dublin, Ireland-based Research and Markets, the U.S. energy drink market was valued at $14.30 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.87% in the forecast period, 2022-26, to reach a value of $21.01 billion by 2026.

Part of this rapid growth can be attributed to increasing demand from Generation Z and Millennials. More teenagers and young adults are opting for better-for-you flavored energy drinks, which are filled with multivitamins, over sugar-infused soda beverages. Health-conscious adults needing a boost that they can feel good about are also reaching for energy drinks rather than their standard cup of java.

Overall, the growing popularity of energy drinks to improve physical and cognitive performance shows no signs of slowing down, and brand names are looking to fuel this market growth this summer with new drinks that focus on fun fruity flavors while remaining healthy.

It’s a Lifestyle

More than an energy drink, the Monster Energy brand regards itself as a lifestyle. For shoppers inspired by all things “groovy,” the brand recently unveiled its newest addition to the Monster Energy Ultra Family: Ultra Peachy Keen. 

“The summer of love was about hope, peace and connecting to something bigger than yourself,” notes Dan McHugh, chief marketing officer at Corona, Calif.-based Monster Energy. “We wanted to ignite the passion of this time for our customers.”

Featuring a 1960s-throwback can design, Ultra Peachy Keen joins the company portfolio of Ultra Family zero-sugar beverages.

Meanwhile, the Juice Monster lineup is welcoming Aussie Style Lemonade this summer. Inspired by the land Down Under, which boasts more than 10,000 beaches, Juice Monster Aussie Style Lemonade comes in a colorful can with ocean graphics reminiscent of the Great Barrier Reef. Mixed with Monster Energy Blend, the sweet-tart lemonade is made with real juice and Monster’s energy blend for an energy boost packed with flavor.

Sunshine Energy Drink
Sunshine Beverages recently expanded its portfolio of Sparking Energy Drinks with the launch of Tropical Pineapple, which is filled with electrolytes, vitamins and 70 milligrams of organic caffeine.

Stimulating Investment

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Sunshine Beverages has expanded its portfolio of Sparkling Energy Drinks with the launch of Tropical Pineapple. The summer flavor combines the ripe, slightly sweet flavor of fruity pineapple with notes of citrus. It’s filled with electrolytes; vitamins A, C, D and E; and 70 milligrams of caffeine sourced from organic green coffee beans. Each can offers 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12 to support energy levels, nerve function and the immune system.

The launch comes on the heels of this year’s majority investment from Cypress Ascendant, a San Diego-based strategic capital investment firm, fueling a refreshed business model, operations, and expanded distribution and marketing support.

“The Cypress Ascendant team is helping to kick off an exciting era for Sunshine, a brand with limitless potential,” says Amanda Goers, president of Sunshine. “Tropical Pineapple has long been in the works and is rounding out the portfolio as a highly anticipated summer flavor, sure to become a classic. At the same time, more consumers are buzzing about the brand across the country.”

Clean Energy

Lifeaid Beverage Co. released a new line of clean performance energy drinks in April. The Fitaid Energy collection is the clean-caffeine addition to the brand’s original Sports Recovery product, Fitaid, boosted with 200 milligrams of caffeine from green tea. The naturally sweetened Fitaid Energy + Sports Recovery blend contains only 15 calories, with no sucralose, no aspartame, no fillers and no synthetic caffeine. Available in four fruity flavors – Mango Sorbet, Peach Mandarin, Blackberry Pineapple and online-exclusive Raspberry Hibiscus – Fitaid contains no artificial flavors or colors. According to the company, each of the four flavors has a clean, crisp finish and avoids the synthetic aftertaste often associated with energy drinks. 

“This is the evolution of energy: Energy 3.0,” asserts Aaron Hinde, co-founder and president of Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Lifeaid. “Fitaid Energy is unlike any other energy drink on the market. Our clean caffeine from green tea helps fight your fitness fatigue and contains our original post-workout recovery blend, which includes BCAAs; turmeric; electrolytes; vitamins B, C, D3, E; and more. All of our handpicked ingredients have met the highest supplement standards and remain vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free. Coupled with no sucralose, no taurine and no synthetic caffeine, Fitaid Energy is the future of clean performance energy.”

Retailer Exclusivity 

The Official Energy Drink of Esports is now bringing a level of exclusivity to Target Corp. In addition to debuting its 16-ounce ready-to-drink cans in nearly 400 Target stores, G Fuel recently unveiled a brand-new flavor exclusive to the Minneapolis-based big-box retailer: Watermelon Limeade. Touting zero calories or sugar, the new flavor allows Target customers to get energized for summertime activities with 300 milligrams of caffeine and proprietary energy- and focus-enhancing complexes.

“We at G Fuel are beyond excited to bring our ready-to-drink products to Target stores across the U.S.,” says Cliff Morgan, founder and CEO of New York-based G Fuel. “Partnering with Target and their incredible network of retail stores has us all truly excited! Not only will our fans be able to pick up four of our amazing flavors in-store, but they are going to absolutely love Watermelon Limeade.”

C4 Energy Drink
Clinically proven to offer cognitive performance, C4 Smart Energy’s new Watermelon Burst variety features a fresh flavor profile that’s ideal for any summertime activity.

Proven Benefits 

In late April, Nutrabolt, maker of the C4 Energy brand, revealed that it was launching C4 Smart Energy Watermelon Burst. The new flavor joins Freedom Ice, Peach Mango Nectar, Black Cherry and Icy Blue Razz as the fifth flavor in the Smart Energy collection.

Coinciding with the release were results from a new clinical trial study that backed up the company’s claims on the cognitive benefits of C4 Smart Energy. Conducted by the University of Iowa, the study tested the mental performance effects of C4 Smart Energy, which contains InnovaTea, a plant-based caffeine ingredient derived from green tea extract that delivers energy and alertness, alongside Cognizin, a patented citicoline designed to support mental focus, attention and recall. The researchers concluded that after drinking one serving of C4 Smart Energy, participants reportedly experienced an array of cognitive performance enhancements.

“These recently published studies illustrate the performance benefits that C4 Energy has stood for from day one – providing better-for-you energy drinks to help unlock the performance potential we know our consumers crave,” says Rajaa Grar, chief digital and marketing officer at Austin, Texas-based Nutrabolt. “The research done behind C4 Smart Energy puts the C4 Energy brand squarely into the mental and cognitive performance market, and consumers can trust that we are continuing to forge a new frontier in creating the best-tasting performance energy products. I can’t wait for our consumers to try the new Watermelon Burst flavor this summer and experience the cognitive performance benefits for themselves!”

A New Contender 

Starbucks has entered the energy category for the first time with the introduction of Starbucks Baya Energy earlier this year. The ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage is crafted from caffeine naturally found in coffee fruit, as well as antioxidant vitamin C for immune support to give consumers a boost of feel-good energy. The beverages were developed through the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between Starbucks and PepsiCo to create RTD coffee and energy products. Starbucks Baya Energy is available in three fruit flavors — Mango Guava, Raspberry Lime and Pineapple Passionfruit — and contains 90 calories and 160 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce can. 

“We’re thrilled to introduce Starbucks Baya Energy to our customers, providing them with a refreshing, fruit-flavored boost of feel-good energy in a way only Starbucks can deliver,” notes Chanda Beppu, VP, channel development Americas at Seattle-based Starbucks. “Over the years, we’ve continued to identify new and exciting ways to expand our ready-to-drink portfolio and saw an opportunity to complement our existing coffee beverage lineup with Starbucks Baya Energy, the brand’s first beverage to launch in the energy category.”

Rockstar Energy Drink
Alongside its first-ever Hispanic equity campaign, Poder Para Mi Gente, Rockstar Energy has launched Rockstar Punched Aguas Frescas, an energetic take on a mercado classic.

A Focus on Equity 

PepsiCo brand Rockstar Energy Drink recently launched the Rockstar Punched Aguas Frescas, this summer’s energetic take on a mercado classic. This latest addition is available in two flavors inspired by the freshness found in aguas frescas, Strawberry and Pineapple, while the unique can design was influenced by the traditional hand-painted signs found at taquerías and food trucks. Rockstar Punched Aguas Frescas offers 160 milligrams of caffeine, contains no artificial sweeteners and is made with real fruit juice. 

In support of its most recent launch, Rockstar unveiled its new ad campaign, Poder Para Mi Gente (Power for My People), a platform designed to empower a new generation of energetic Hispanics who work hard to give back to their local communities. This first-ever Hispanic equity campaign for the brand spotlights young people inspired by their heritage and embodies Rockstar Energy’s “hustle” mentality.

A commercial, also called “Poder Para Mi Gente” and directed by Rocío Crudo, features Victor Fontanez, professionally known as Vic Blends, who rose to popularity by cutting hair in exchange for good conversation. Blends took his passion for cutting hair in his mother’s garage to become one of the industry’s most renowned barbers, and now uses his platform to help his community through philanthropic efforts.

“This is a huge moment for Rockstar Energy Drink, which has a long heritage of creating beverages that Hispanics love,” observes Fabiola Torres, chief marketing officer of the energy category and general manager at Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo. “With this campaign, we applaud those who work tirelessly for their success and give back to their communities to help them succeed. This is only the beginning for the brand as we continue to explore innovative ways to expand the energy category and support local communities.” 

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