Energy drinks is among the fastest-growing beverage segments, as evidenced by its strength throughout the pandemic.
As many of the major brands refined their strategies in response to consumer adjustments, energy drinks are experiencing a wider reach than ever before. Thus, energy drink consumers looking for functional energy will continue to find it in c-stores in 2022.
Sales of non-aseptic energy drinks in c-stores totaled $10.6 billion, a 14.0% year-to-year increase for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2021, per IRI. Leading brands included Red Bull, which saw sales rise 17.8% to $4.7 billion; Monster, whose sales of $3.17 billion reflected a 13.6% increase; VPX, with sales of just over $973 million, up 12.1%; and Rockstar, whose nearly $487 million in sales reflected a 12.7% drop.
Eye on Innovation
“Energy is through the roof right now,” said Erin Breeden, merchandising manager for Evansville, Wyo.-based convenience store Hat Six Travel Center. “So many companies are coming out with new names and brands and giving Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar a run for their money. Ghost, Uptime, Zoa, Celsius and Alani Nu are all coming into the scene hard and heavy.”
The proliferation of brands suits Hat Six’s management just fine, Breeden said. “I have found that having a large variety is the answer to so many of the outage problems. People will choose something else if there are more choices. We say ‘yes’ to new products.”
As for new products, the category figures to get a boost during 2022 thanks to PepsiCo’s recent addition to its Rockstar energy drink line, Rockstar Unplugged, which features hemp seed oil and B vitamins. PepsiCo, which acquired Rockstar in 2020, wants to garner younger and female customers with the launch, which includes a multimedia marketing campaign titled “Turn Up Your Mood,” to do just that.
“During the pandemic, there has been a significant decline in self-service beverage sales,” noted Don Burke, senior vice president for Management Science Associates in Pittsburgh. “It appears that some coffee consumers concerned about the self-service area of the convenience store turned to the packaged beverage section, choosing an energy drink for their caffeine consumption.”
As the pandemic winds down in 2022, Burke said, the question is, “How many of these potentially new energy drink consumers will return to dispensed coffee?”
“We predict another strong year for energy drink sales,” he said, “albeit at a more moderate pace, likely in the 7% to 12% range.”