While customers remain hungry for energy, the success of the energy drink segment appears to be pulling attention from its sister category, energy shots. Still, effective merchandising can help c-stores inspire impulse purchases of energy shots.
Dollar sales of energy shots in the convenience store channel topped $608 million, a drop of 4% for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 1, 2023, per IRI. But unit sales plummeted 7.2% for the period.
Within the category, Living Essentials LLC’s 5-hour Energy remained far and away the dominant player, recording $547 million in sales, a drop of 4.1%. Tweaker generated sales of $25 million, down 2.9% during the period. VPX’s sales hit $16.7 million, a rise of 2.6%. Private-label energy shots notched sales of nearly $2.6 million dollars, down 12.9%.
“Energy shots remain popular, but that has been overshadowed by the robust growth with the energy drink category,” explained Hussein Yatim, vice president for Yatco Energy in Marlborough, Mass., which operates 18 Yatco Food Mart convenience stores. “Also, there has been more product diversification into wellness and health shots, as well.”
In stores, Yatim suggested, effective merchandising must play a role. “We typically see that having energy shots at the checkout counter where it’s an impulse buy helps lift sales, and also doing a two-fer promo at a great price increases sales volume.”
Energy continues to be a focus category for Fort Worth, Texas-based Yesway, which operates more than 420 stores under the banners Yesway and Allsup’s in nine states.
“We are growing our performance energy space for 2023, but also focusing on our base energy business, ensuring that we have the correct amount of space and items for our key supplier partners,” said Dana Renfro, Yesway’s category manager overseeing energy shots as well as carbonated beverages, soft drinks, juices, teas and energy drinks.
“Sales of energy shots are lethargic, as more consumers opt for the higher profile, glitzier energy drinks,” agreed Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC). “The energy drink category has seen lots of innovation, along with new competitors, to help boost the category.”
Recognition of the trend toward energy drinks can be seen in 5-hour Energy’s ongoing rollout of its 16-ounce energy drink, which launched in 2021 and expanded in the autumn of 2022. Cans contain the same amount of caffeine as the 1.93-ounce extra-strength shots, as well as the proprietary blend of vitamins and nutrients consumers rely on.
The rollout, while providing an alternative to shots, will nonetheless keep the 5-hour Energy brand in front of consumers’ eyes, and could lead them back to the energy shot category.