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.
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.
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.