Over the past few years, energy shots have emerged as a separate product category from energy drinks and other functional beverages. While energy drinks are increasingly associated with healthfulness and positive lifestyle choices, energy shots remain oriented toward direct functionality.
Americans crave added energy as much as ever, yet overall category sales of energy shots are trending downward, due in part to the growth of enhanced beverages, and price is becoming more of a factor, as evidenced by the gains by private-label brands.
According to IRI scan data, the biggest player, 5-hour Energy, had sales of $662 million during the same period.
There remains a sharp discrepancy between sales of energy shots and drinks, which can be attributed partly to energy drinks regularly releasing new products, increasing distribution and increasing pricings, which all combined has helped that segment grow robust over the last few years.
To attract new consumers, 5-hour Energy and other producers are introducing new flavors to entice a younger demographic.
Ed Kashouty, the owner of two Exxon-branded c-stores in New Jersey, said his sales of energy shots are bucking the trend, up about 20% last year.
“We sell them mostly to youngsters; by that I mean people between the ages of 18-35, to 40 years old,” said Kashouty.
Sales trends continued as expected through January, he added, auguring little change in his projections. “People are always looking for something with a bit more kick.” 5-hour Energy remains his top-selling brand, followed by Monster.
Younger consumers seem to buy shots more regularly, Kashouty said.
“In one of the stores that I used to have by Rutgers University, the kids would buy them to keep them awake and keep them going while they were studying. They used to buy them by the six pack. That made the store my biggest seller as far as six packs of energy shots.”
Energy shots that contain protein could be a convenient and less expensive alternative, and formulators can ensure that they remain low in sugar and calories are also drawing consumer interest.
Retail consultant Bob Phibbs conceded that the front counter is a necessary location. “Sales training just isn’t practical in c-stores, so it would have to be under their noses.”
But Phibbs also regularly advises convenience store operators to cross-merchandise with any of several product categories, and energy shots are one of them. “Put the energy shots and the sleeping products together and cross merchandise. Many people can’t sleep, but also can’t wake up.”