One-shot energy drinks here to stay, says researcher

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Energy drinks North america Energy drink

High premiums and broadening consumer interest is driving growth in one-shot energy drinks in North America, according to beverage market researcher, Zenith International.

Zenith said the nascent category, born in 2005 with the launch of Living Essentials’ 5-Hour Energy Shot in the US, was going from strength-to-strength, and spreading beyond North America to new markets in Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Many brands had entered the category that was built around a 2-ounze can or shrink-wrapped bottle, as opposed to the regular 8-ounze slimline can and which Zenith valued at about $350m in North America and Europe in early estimates it had compiled.

In 2008, 8.5m liters, or 140m units, had been sold at a typical price point of $2.50, similar to that of the 8-oz can.

The bulk of these sales occurred in North America and the category received a recent boost when energy drinks pioneer Red Bull announced it would be launching a one-shot version of its iconic brand this month. However the US division of the Austrian company did not return calls by the time of publication to confirm this.

Healthier and more natural ingredients were also being used such ginseng, guarana, yerba maté and ginkgo biloba, as well as superfruits and their extracts.

Differentiation drive

Zenith consultant and editor of its Functional Drinks newsletter, Jenny Foulds, said there was an element of overcrowding in the energy drinks market that was driving platform innovation, as energy drink makers attempted to differentiate and capitalize on sustained consumer interest.

While “the acceleration of life” ​and associated energy deficits continued to drive the energy drink market globally, it did not take long for brand overcrowding to occur and this was already happening to some extent in the one-shot category.

But for those brands that could establish supremacy via visibility campaigns and tangible benefits (i.e immediate boosted energy), the prospects were strong.

“This category is likely to remain a force to be reckoned with,”​ Foulds told “There is a lot hype around the category at the moment and a lot of smaller companies flapping around trying to compete but the fact Red Bull is entering the market demonstrates the strength of the segment.”

Category maturation

She said the rise of the 2-oz format was part of a maturing of the energy category that had seen the energy sell breaking free from the beverage format.

“In the US, the centre of innovation, health food stores stock products such as energy powders, absorbent energy strips, chewing gum, mints and even sprays,”​ Foulds said.

She added: “Consumer interest has broadened as the number of people with energy deficits has grown so that whereas 10 years ago 80 per cent of energy drinks would have been consumed in bars and night clubs and 20 per cent in traditional retail outlets like supermarkets and garage forecourts,” ​she said.

“Now the split is much more like 50/50.”

It was possible the category could be more appealing to weight-conscious women because it delivered the same energy boost via the active ingredients such as taurine, caffeine and D-glucurono-γ-lactone​, but with less volume of “sugary liquid”​ that is typical of energy drinks.

As it stands, 90 per cent of energy drinks are consumed by men.

Several US brands such as Powershot and 9-2-5 were launching in the UK.

She noted that in Asia several non-carbonated energy brands such as Lipovitan and M-150 were consumed in a 3.3oz one-shot, glass bottle format.

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