Dollar sales of energy shots topped $773 billion, for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 28, 2014, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI) data.
That was a 4.78% drop from the same period a year ago. Also, unit sales dipped 4.58% to more than 245 million.
Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for New York City-based Beverage Marketing Corp., confirmed the shots category has slowed in recent years. 5-hour Energy continues to lead the category and is seeking to improve sales with the recent launch of an “improved-tasting” energy shot, Hemphill said.
Indeed, according to IRI, 5-hour Energy shots led the category with almost $727 million in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 28, down 4.51% from the previous year. Stacker 2 6-Hour Power was a distant second with less than $8.5 million in dollar sales, down 35.19% compared with the same period last year.
At United Express, which operates 31 convenience stores in Texas, however, energy shots have seen double-digit sales over the prior year at United Express stores, said Tandy Arrant, convenience business manager for parent company The United Family, headquartered in Lubbock, Texas.
Attributing the increase to the busy lifestyle of customers, Arrant expects the trend to continue in 2015.
“I think people are just doing more, driving themselves harder, staying up later and they need an extra boost,” Arrant said.
To merchandise its energy shots, United Express has a large checkout display and also uses freezer and cooler door merchandisers to market energy shots alongside energy drinks.
The chain has done well with various in-and-out niche energy shots, which, Arrant said, have brought attention to the category. As 5-hour Energy has added new flavors, such as pink lemonade, those options have attracted new customers.
Jim Schutz, managing director of Open Pantry Food Marts, which operates seven locations in Wisconsin, agreed that new flavors have brought new customers to the category.
With new flavors being rolled out, Schutz sees the category growing, possibly as much as 5% in 2015.
“When 5-hour introduced pink lemonade, benefitting LBBC (Living Beyond Breast Cancer), we saw a rise in female customers interested in energy shots. New flavors that target both male and female customers will be the key to increased sales as well as healthier options, i.e. sugar free and zero calorie,” Schultz said. “In order to attract new customers the energy shot companies must start to target all demographics. The traditional favors that are available today will only continue to maintain that current base of customers.”
Customers today have many options for energy besides shots—including bars and drinks. To grow sales, “the energy shot companies need to stay one step ahead,” Schutz said.
5-hour Energy appears to be doing just that, recently debuting new “improved-taste” 5-hour Energy shots.
“The power of suggestion is huge,” said Schutz. “Typically a male consumer will grab the first thing he sees. When we see a female consumer looking at the different flavors and strengths the mere suggestion of ‘check out the new flavor’ will spike interest, and a sale. I see these new flavors doing very well.”