The energy drinks category lived up to its name in 2019 with an overall category growth of 10.8% in dollar sales, according to figures compiled by IRI.
“Energy drinks have been on a solid growth trajectory in recent years and, in fact, saw accelerated growth in 2019 due to the innovation around performance energy drinks,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for industry consulting group Beverage Marketing Corp. “We believe 2020 will be another solid year of growth for the category.”
Data from Nielsen shows that energy drinks dollar sales have risen the past three years. What’s driving this growth? Category innovation, according to Hemphill.
Energy brand Bang registered the biggest dollar growth, with a leap of more than 250% higher than the previous year, pulling it into orbit just below category stalwarts Monster and Red Bull.
“And with the success of Bang, mainly, the ‘interesting flavors’ and combos are growing in popularity in other brands, as well,” said Mike Nelson, senior category manager with Plaid Pantry, operating 110 stores in Oregon and Washington.
The Bang tide seems to be lifting all boats, according to BMC’s Hemphill.
“The development of the performance energy segment pioneered by Bang has been the biggest development in recent years,” Hemphill said. “Other products like Reign and C4 have helped to give credibility to this segment — and drive sales.”
How strong is the performance energy segment? Strong enough for Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven to launch its own proprietary brand, Quake. Nelson said that the strength of the segment is another factor that’ll drive sales higher this year.
There are other successes in the category, as well.
“We have also seen tremendous growth in ‘alternative’ energy drinks as well, with Guayakí Yerba Mate in particular being incredibly strong,” said Plaid Pantry’s Nelson, adding that consumers seem to be gravitating toward low- and no-sugar options.
Nelson is also broadening his brand mix for the coming year, including what he sees as up-and-coming players — and one classic brand introducing a novel offering.
“I really think KDP’s Adrenaline Shoc is going to be good, as well as Celsius,” said Nelson. “Coke is going to dedicate a lot to their Coke Energy roll out. That could be very big for them — and us.”