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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Energy Beverages Keep Their Edge by Losing It

What we at least believe to be increasingly hectic lifestyles has served as a trigger for a bevy of new consumer products promising  to help consumers keep up the pace.  The popularity of energy drinks or shots, in particular, has expanded at a torrid rate, tracking consumers' real or perceived need for more energy. 

Packaged Facts estimates that total U.S. sales for energy drinks/shots exceeded $12.5 billion in 2012, up 60% since 2008, notwithstanding a recession-influenced slowdown in 2009.  That’s impressive.    

Alongside the functional attributes of energy drinks, a rebellious, trendy image helped these products gain traction with the all-important 18- to 24-year-old consumers.  At least in their Western product incarnations, energy drinks have from the start been associated with raves and college cocktails. The karma of energy drinks is an update on sex and drugs and rock ’n roll, with extreme sports and auto racing thrown in, along with subsequent niche musical genres.
Energy shots then arrived with their own significantly divergent positioning.  If energy drinks are about loving the nightlife, energy shots are about getting through the daily grind.
A loss of edge came with a gain in audience:  traditional or non-traditional students with full-time jobs on top of course loads or vice versa, soccer moms, late-shift workers, how-to-survive-the-recession moonlighters, long-distance commuters and truckers--all were lining up to buy 24-packs of 5-Hour Energy shots at Costco.

So a  shift from edgy to everyday transpired.  Much to the chagrin of rebels without a cola, energy drink marketers reined in the party vibe to broaden their consumer base, even as energy drinks have become accessible at nearly any type of retail outlet for packaged foods and beverages, from major grocery outlets and disounters to dollar stores and sporting goods chains and smoothie shops.

For every sympathizing-with-the-devil brand such as Monster Beverage--a leader in the energy drink market that is adventurous in everything from product innovation (Uber Monster) to its brand tagline (“Unleash the Beast!”)--there are many New Kids on The Block.  And while the energy drink market may not be ready for boy bands in its prime time advertising, vanilla has infiltrated the energy drink market, both literally and figuratively.

The good news is that there’s room for greater diversity in energy drink and shot products.  As the energy drinks and shots market defies the odds (and the controversy) by continuing to prosper, sales-tracking figures confirm that the market is dynamic enough to allow for all-around opportunity rather than just bull-eat-dog dynamics. The energy drink category experienced 42% growth from 2008-2012, while energy shots grew 168%, and energy drink mixes jumped 480%.

In the energy drinks market as elsewhere,  brand line extension and new marketer entry are both important to meeting varied consumer needs and keeping consumers engaged.  Energy drink marketers can leverage several growth areas and positioning strategies, particularly targeted marketing.  For example, women may be a good audience for natural nutrition and low-sugar energy drinks, golfers may be drawn to well-manicured “sports-enhancing” energy drinks, and seniors keeping up with their apple-of-my-eye grandkids may desire products from trusted brands.

At the same time, energy drink purveyors who are so determined can retain their edginess by taking brand imaging, product innovation, contrived flavors, packaging technology, and marketing tactics to a new level of extremity—creating a next-generation beverage that’s not your mother’s energy drink.

To read more about Packaged Facts’ latest report on the energy drinks and shots market in the U.S., please visit

Friday, January 11, 2013

For U.S. Food Marketers, Sabor Is Essential

Advertising budgets are sometimes the quickest cuts during economic recession, but advertisers can't long ignore the nation’s fastest-growing demographic groups.   By 2009, for example, Kellogg had gone from supporting nine of its brands with Hispanic-targeted advertising to supporting just one.  But Kellogg and other companies have quickly redirected.  Kellogg indicated to Wall Street analysts that it has reversed course and is now increasing its Hispanic-oriented advertising investment, as seen in recent commercials for Frosted Mini Wheats, Eggo and Fiber One. 

Food retailers have also catered to the country’s demographic shifts,  with chains such as Pathmark and Schnucks redesigning stores, bolstering product lineups,  and adding bilingual staff. 

And food manufacturers continue to innovate to attract both the growing Hispanic population as well as mainstream consumers who have become more adventurous with the Hispanic cuisine they eat.

New products have been launched by companies such as McCormick (Hispanic rice mixes), PepsiCo (Dole Sensation’s Aguas Frescas line), Campbell Soup (V8 Original with a Hint of Lime) and General Mills (Dulce de Leche Cheerios). 

Traditional Hispanic food manufacturers have also expanded their product lines.  Companies have hawked Jalapeno and Chipotle flavored baked beans (Goya), taco salad trays (Ole Mexican Foods), fresh tortillas in paper wrapping (Guerrero Tradicionales from Gruma Corp.), and Mini Tacos (for Ruiz’s El Monterey Mexican Snack bag line).

All this activity has created a dynamic atmosphere for Hispanic food and beverages and points to healthy, and flavorful, market growth for years to come.

Tortillas already outsell many American staples, including as spaghetti/macaroni/pasta, hamburgers and hot dog buns, all other fresh rolls/buns/croissants, and bagels/bialys. Salsa, for its part, has almost twice the dollar sales of ketchup and more than twice the sales of mustard. 

The Hispanic food and beverage market--defined in terms of traditionally Mexican or Hispanic-style product categories such tortillas or taco kits or Mexican-style sauces and salsas--is expected to embark on a more aggressive growth pattern over the upcoming five-year period. Packaged Facts projects that sales of Hispanic foods and beverages will approach $10.7 billion in 2017, up 31% from present levels.
For more information about Hispanic Foods and Beverages in the U.S., please visit:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pet Owner Homes as Noah's Arks

There is a lot more to the pet population than dogs and cats.  American pet owners also live in the company of 116 million fish, birds, small animals and reptiles.  These pet owners account for 25% of all pet owners and represent big business for the pet industry.  They groom and board their birds, buy toys for their iguanas, purchase medications for their turtles, take their gerbils to the vet, decorate their fish tanks and, of course, buy food for all of the tens of millions of pets that they own besides their cats and dogs. 
One of the most striking aspects of the pet ownership patterns documented in Packaged Facts Pet Population Trends in the U.S.:  Fish, Birds, Small Animals and Reptiles is that millions of Americans create a veritable Noah’s ark of animal companions in their homes.  For example, besides animals such as snakes, iguanas, turtles and lizards, substantial numbers of reptile owners also have dogs (68%), cats (41%), fish (33%) and birds (9%).  Eighteen percent of bird owners have fish, and 13% of fish owners have rabbits.  The most inclusive pet households are those with rabbits.  More than half of rabbit owners also have fish, while 23% have birds, 44% own cats and 78% also count on canine companionship. 

Given the diversity of the population of pets in so many pet-owning households, cats often find themselves sharing space with animals such as birds and hamsters that might be expected to pop up on their radar screens as tempting, natural prey.  Yet, the 3.4 million bird owners who also have cats apparently are confident of being able to guard their Tweeties from their resident Sylvesters.  Or, could it be that—like the owners of the cockatoo and the cat in Unlikely Friendships, the best-selling book by Jennifer S. Holland—they learn how to create an environment where their birds and cats become best friends?

Hamsters are even more likely than birds to live in the presence of cats (62% vs. 41%), and nearly 90% of them are in households with children.  So, it seems safe to assume that, before turning in for the night, parents in the million or so households with cats and hamsters take care to check that the hamster cages in their kids’ bedrooms and their family rooms are securely locked.  Or so Packaged Facts devoutly hopes.
For information on Pet Population and Pet Owner Trends in the U.S.: Fish, Birds, Reptiles, and Small Animals, please visit: