The Energy drinks market is the biggest and most profitable drink-now segment, now worth £1.8bn and growing at +13% (IRI).

1 in 3 soft drinks sold in convenience stores is an energy drink, with Big Can Energy driving the category growth at +17% (IRI).

The current economic landscape and subsequent cost of living concerns have resulted in almost 30% of consumers looking for lower cost alternatives. Financial pressures have also driven demand for own label products to record levels across many categories (IGD).

However, Energy is bucking the trend as 97% of sales are from brands, showing that branded energy drinks remain the clear choice for shoppers (IRI).

Jonathan Kemp, Commercial Director at AG Barr, comments: “Rubicon RAW has been driving incremental sales and bringing more shoppers into the category. A third of Rubicon RAW sales are from new entrants to energy, whilst 70% of RAW shoppers are making it a repeat purchase (Kantar).”

Since launching in May last year, Apple & Guava has exceeded all sales expectations, selling over 1.1 million cans since launch, and quickly establishing itself as the No.1 apple flavoured energy drink in the market (IRI).

A 4 x 500ml multipack was also launched last year, which met the needs of those consumers who adapted their shopping behaviour post-pandemic. The format continued to perform well as restrictions eased and has grown by over +£1.5 million within the last year alone (IRI).

“Growth in flavoured energy is linked to consumer needs changing, and shoppers are looking to the category to be exciting and varied to keep them engaged,” adds Kemp. “Rubicon RAW delivers on taste and exciting, interesting flavours allowing retailers to invigorate their energy fixture and drive incremental sales.”

Rubicon RAW has also recently benefitted from the ultimate on pack offer, celebrating its continued partnership with GB Snowsport and the beginning of their winter season.

The energy drinks market remains one of the most profitable for retailers and Rubicon RAW has quickly established itself as a must-stock brand within it. Selling more than 35 million cans since launch, it’s become the second most successful innovation launch within soft drinks (IRI).

Barr Soft Drinks recently powered up the Scottish energy market with the launch of PWR-BRU – a distinctive new energy brand from the House of IRN-BRU.

IRN-BRU has already delivered growth within the energy market, with the brand seen by consumers as having a natural fit with the category, and research highlighted that there is the potential for something bigger and bolder.

“PWR-BRU is, without a doubt, the biggest launch of the year for the energy market. The Energy market in Scotland is a fast-growing sector, delivering one third of total soft drinks category growth (Circana), however, only 25% of shoppers currently buy energy brands so there is still huge growth potential (Kantar),” says Kemp.

“IRN-BRU Energy delivered +£8.5m in category growth (Circana), and all our research was telling us that shoppers loved the unique BRU essence in an energy format, but they wanted us to go one step further with flavour and appearance (Scott Porter Research). PWR-BRU is the brand to unlock incremental growth by offering something truly different, delivering an energy drink like no other brand can.”

The PWR-BRU range consists of the Original IRN-BRU flavour as well as three knockout fruity flavours with distinctive names; ‘’Diablo’’ Cherry, ‘’Origin’’ Original, ‘’Maverick’’ Berry and ‘’Dropkick’’ Tropical. Non-HFSS and levy free, PWR-BRU will be available in plain and price-marked (£1.19) 500ml cans.

Adrian Hipkiss, Marketing Director at Boost Drinks, comments: “When taking a closer look into the energy sub-categories, it’s Energy Stimulation drinks which play a significant role in contributing to the value growth of the Soft Drinks category, growing +15% YoY (IRI), and accounting for 26% of all Soft Drink value sales (IRI).”

Boost is the only brand that is a top three in three Functional Drinks categories – Energy Stimulation, Sports Drinks and RTD Iced Coffee (IRI). Within this, Boost is the third largest brand (IRI) in the Energy Stimulation category and the number one fastest growing Sports and RTD Iced Coffee brand.

“Whilst we are dedicated to developing a range which appeals to consumers, we are also committed to being a transparent and collaborative partner to wholesalers and retailers, a core belief that inspired the Honest Broker approach that Boost is founded on – a belief that in order to help retailers achieve the best sales, open, honest and collaborative interactions are essential,” adds Hipkiss. “As such, we’re constantly monitoring the ever-evolving retail landscape and consumer trends so we can advise across all touch points, including which products our partners should be stocking and how they should be marketing them, to ensure the best success for their business.”

As the nation has become accustomed to flexi-working following the pandemic, take-home purchases have become more prominent, resulting in a growing consumer demand for 1 litre and multi-pack formats. These products continue to be a huge growth opportunity for retailers, with sales witnessing an increase of +10% YoY (IRI).

Simultaneously, shoppers continue to seek ready-to-drink, on-the-go quality energy options at everyday value prices (Cousins Davis). Boost Original Energy is available in 1 litre, 500ml and 250ml, and is rated 1st for taste among Original competitor products (Wirral sensory Group).

“To boost this growth even further, flavours in Energy now account for 38% of Stimulation sales (IRI) and have shown a huge 48% growth YoY (IRI) showing that there’s a significant thirst for a range of flavour variants to suit all tastes,” says Hipkiss. “Boost Red Berry is the largest selling 250ml Stimulation Flavour SKU (IRI), however, considering the fact that 39% of Stimulation shoppers actually make their purchase based on flavour (Cousins Davis) alone, it’s important to stock a wide variety of flavours to cater to this.”

Ben Parker, GB Retail Commercial Director at Britvic, comments: “The link between sugar content and stimulant drinks is a considerable barrier to entry in the category. Stocking low or no sugar options will help retailers to maximise their sales by addressing this concern, while also enabling them to comply with HFSS legislations that have come into effect.”

In 2022 Britvic announced a reduction in the sugar content across Rockstar’s core range of energy drinks, making the six bestsellers high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) legislation compliant.

“Through the new recipes, the brand is making itself even more reliable and steadfast for retailers who will be able to continue growing energy drink sales through high-impact merchandising and promotions, reflecting the brand’s wider ambition to grow the stimulants segment and extend its appeal to health-conscious shoppers,” adds Parker. “Through reformulation and the introduction of compliant lines across our portfolio, retailers can trust our brands to help grow their sales, complemented by high-impact merchandising and promotions.”

More recently, Britvic expanded the Rockstar Energy® range with the launch of two refreshing, zero-sugar flavours: Rockstar Refresh Strawberry & Lime and Watermelon & Kiwi to tap into the growing consumer demand for lower sugar options as part of Britvic’s Healthier People sustainability agenda. Both products are high in vitamin C, contain zero sugar and are only 21 calories per can, offering consumers more choice.

Stocking a range of core stimulants flavours and new variants has been key to the success of the category,” says Parker. “Range expansion has been vital in keeping pace with increased demand and retailers should consider stocking a selection of products and flavours to help attract new shoppers into the category.”

Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), comments: “Energy drinks have come a long way since they first hit the market back in the 90’s, and are continuing to grow, with value sales increasing by £250m over the past twelve months (Nielsen). Energy drinks are appealing to more consumers on more occasions, and this is thanks to the arrival of new flavours, functionality and zero sugar options.

“Innovation is key to increasing sales, and Monster has supercharged sales in the energy drinks sector in recent years, moving from challenger brand status in GB to become a major driving force of growth. In fact, it’s the fastest growing major energy drink brand in GB retail (Nielsen).”

The core Monster range is led by the Original variant, worth £133.6m (Nielsen) in retail. A new zero sugar variant of this fan favourite hit shelves in September: Monster Zero Sugar, offering the same full-flavoured taste of Monster Original but with zero sugar.

More than 47.7% of category innovation sales over the last year have come from Monster’s great tasting NPD (Nielsen), including Monster Lewis Hamilton Zero Sugar, Monster Juiced Aussie Lemonade, red berry flavoured Monster Ultra Rosa and Monster Ultra Peachy Keen. Monster Ultra has retained its position as GB’s no.1 zero sugar energy brand (Nielsen).

“Stocking brands that are being supported by high-profile consumer campaigns can also pay dividends,” adds Burgess. “Keep an eye out for any POS materials and digital downloads on that you can use to drive excitement in store.”

The British public’s strong emphasis on health and fitness is driving the increasing popularity of performance energy drinks, which offer added benefits to support specific tasks and activities, such as Reign Total Body Fuel.

All the products in the Reign Total Body Fuel range contain 200mg of naturally-sourced caffeine, and are enriched with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which can help to prevent protein muscle breakdown, and L-Arginine, which improves blood flow and stimulates the release of growth hormones. They also contain vitamins B3, B6 and B12, which may contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue to a normal energy-yielding metabolism.

“Following the launch of two new flavours in 2022 – Peach Fizz and Orange Dreamsicle – we have launched the new Mang-o-matic variant, which we expect to drive more sales – especially given the popularity of the tasty mango-flavoured variants in the Monster Energy range,” says Burgess.

A Red Bull spokesperson comments: “Although shoppers are feeling the effects of inflation within the wider grocery market, this hasn’t stopped them from getting out and about within the convenience channel.”

Sports and Energy has been the fastest growing category this year, adding an additional +£411m to Soft Drinks and contributing 47% of all category value growth (Nielsen). This trend is also playing out within the wider market, and throughout the summer there were weeks where Sports & Energy over-took Colas as the #1 category in value share within the total market (Nielsen). Within this, Energy has been a key player, now accounting for 19% of all Soft Drink value (+2pts in share vs 2 years ago) and growth is showing no signs of slowing, so we expect this trend to continue into 2024 (Nielsen).

Energy flavours have continued to grow in popularity in 2023 and Red Bull expects this momentum to roll into 2024 as they act as an entry point for consumers. This year, 71% of shoppers that were new to Energy Drinks bought a flavoured product, so were a key part of the category to drive penetration (Kantar). They also add value, with flavours contributing +£120m (Nielsen) to Energy Drinks this year alone, securing their position as a vital part of the category. Red Bull is a driving force behind flavours in the market, with the Edition range now bought by 2.6 million shoppers (Kantar) and growing +£19.9m year on year (Nielsen).

Increasingly consumers are looking for variety in flavours with 85% agreeing that they “want to try new and unusual flavours in energy drinks” (Appinio Surveys) which has contributed to the success of Red Bull flavours this year.

Additionally, as the category grows, more consumers are trading up into multipacks, now worth £36million and in strong growth (+13% vs last year). Red Bull Multipacks accounted for 60% of multipack growth in the channel this year and are an essential trade-up option for the #1 brand in the category.

Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Wholesale, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, comments: “Within energy, stimulation has been the strongest performing segment over the last five years, making up 80% of the category.”

Alongside stimulation sales, sport drinks have performed well since the pandemic. This tallies with a broader increase in focus on health following the impact of Covid-19. Penetration of sport drinks grew by 66% (Kantar) from February 2020 to February 2022. While a lower base than stimulation, the trend within sport drinks matches the upward swing in the broader sports & energy segment.

The sport and energy drinks segments have continued to deliver significant value for retailers this year, acting as a real driver for the soft drinks category as a whole. In fact, both sport and energy drinks are growing ahead of the category, currently seeing 74.7% (Nielsen) and 16% (Nielsen) value sales growth respectively.

“The health & well-being trend is here to stay,” adds Gouldsmith. “Our analysis of the last 10 years of soft drink sales data shows that key health aspects (lower in sugar; added vitamins; more natural drinks) of soft drink consumption have grown when compared with 2014. The number of occasions where soft drink shoppers cite health as the major reason for their purchase grew to 8.3% (Kantar) in 2022 from 1.8% in 2014.”

Volume sales of low- and no-calorie soft drinks grew by 8.7% during 2022 (BSDA), and this segment now makes up almost 70% (BSDA) of total soft drink sales, which means retailers should stock up on low- and no-sugar drinks to capitalise on this trend.

Within the energy segment specifically, consumers continue to seek healthier low sugar or more natural options with low-sugar energy in 25% growth and natural energy in 23% growth (Nielsen).

Lucozade Energy has recently enhanced its Original and Orange flavours, following 18 months of extensive research and development, and input from 6,500 consumers.

The new recipes deliver a more “zingy” taste, with a bolder taste for the unique Original flavour and more citrusy, orange note for Orange, giving consumers more of what they love.

The changes are subtle but further elevate the drinks’ flavours, giving Lucozade Energy drinkers more of the unique notes they associate with the brand.

Since the launch of the enhanced Lucozade Energy Orange and Original flavours, the brand has experienced 8% (Nielsen) value and 1.1% (Nielsen) volume YOY growth. The changes also prompted 25% more shoppers to purchase the brand during the first eight weeks of the campaign. 52% of these were light or lapsed shoppers, which suggests that the drinks’ fresh new pack design and bolder flavour profiles are renewing shopper interest in the brand and driving trial.

Lucozade Alert is experiencing strong 22.1% (Nielsen) YOY growth, and Lucozade Energy and Lucozade Sport are also going from strength to strength, with increases of 6.5% (Nielsen) and 15.9% (Nielsen) in YOY value sales respectively.

Lucozade Sport Zero Sugar is driving new shoppers to the category as well as boosting soft drink shoppers’ existing spend. Within just eight months, the brand has delivered £8.5M in sales and is over-indexing versus the category average and is also 55% incremental to the soft drinks category as a whole (Nielsen).


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