Big shift in energy sales

Lucozade Energy Raspberry Ripple

The last year has seen big growth in energy drink sales, particularly in larger format packs and multipacks, as consumers spent more time at home – a big opportunity for retailers.


The popularity of energy drinks has shown no sign of waning in recent times with the Covid-19 pandemic helping to ensure yet more growth as consumers spent more time at home.

At an entire soft drinks category level, around a quarter of shoppers are now consuming more soft drinks than before, says Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Wholesale, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I. But the most striking trend has been a shift towards take-home drinks such as larger formats and multi-packs.

“This shift in behaviour is reflected in the growth of our drink-later range, as we’ve seen an increase of 9.1% [IRI, Nov 2020] in Lucozade Energy’s drink-later portfolios,” he explains.

To meet this demand, Lucozade Energy has launched a 1.45L bottle, price-marked at £2. This new format launch will also be joined by a Lucozade Energy 12x330ml cans pack.

“LRS Research indicates that 64% of consumers would buy a larger serve pack if it were available – making our new 1.45L bottles perfectly placed to help retailers meet the increased shopper demand for take-home formats,” says Gouldsmith.

“As lockdown restrictions continue to be reviewed, we’d advise retailers to pay close attention to the needs of their shoppers and adapt their soft drinks range accordingly.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, category leader Red Bull agrees that larger format packs represent a big opportunity for local retailers in Scotland.

A Red Bull spokesperson said: “Across 2020 multipacks and larger formats became the perfect in-home solution for soft drink consumption. With the value of Red Bull multipacks growing +52% YTD, with penetration growing by 31.9% in the last 52 weeks [Nielsen, Mar 2021], now is the perfect time for retailers to stock up.”

The company does warn retailers, however, not to lose sight of the importance of single formats.

“Whilst multipack formats have seen increased popularity, and on-the-go sales over the last year have experienced decline, Red Bull hasn’t lost customers with single formats still growing by 12% YTD [Nielsen, Mar 2021].”

Meanwhile, Barr Soft Drinks has been busy with the launch of its latest big can energy offering: Rubicon Raw.

“We’ve launched Rubicon Raw to meet the needs of today’s developing Energy consumers,” says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks.

“We have invested heavily throughout the development of Rubicon Raw to understand the Energy consumer better, and what’s relevant in their lives today. They adopted the category as young adults, but many have matured and evolved as consumers since then, and they’re calling out for something new.

“The average age of an energy drinker is older than one might think at 31, and their needs are moving on. They are life maximisers, people who want to get the most out of life. Energy drinks fuel that lifestyle.

“Flavour remains really important to energy drinkers, they are looking for more than functionality, they want a great tasting product. Eight of the fastest growing Energy SKUs are flavoured, four of which are juice based [IRI, Oct 2020]. The No. 1 reason consumers like Rubicon Raw is that it’s made with 20% real fruit juice, which together with caffeine from green coffee beans and B-vitamins provides a big energy hit that is full of flavour.”

The Rubicon Raw range comprises three variants – Raspberry and Blueberry, Orange and Mango and Cherry and Pomegranate, with natural flavours and no artificial colours.

The launch is being supported by a £1.5m consumer, social and shopper marketing campaign designed to raise awareness and encourage trial.

In line with Barr Soft Drink’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the Rubicon Raw outer case will be wrapped in 100% recycled film, which has around half the carbon footprint of its virgin plastic equivalent.

The levy free 500ml Rubicon Raw range is available in plain pack (RSP £1.29) and a £1.29 PMP with a range of in-store and in-depot POS to signpost the category and engage shoppers at the fixture.

Rockstar reboot

One brand aiming to make waves this summer is Rockstar. The brand is being fully relaunched this month with a bold new pack design, reformulation of its original flavour and a multipack to capitalise on the increasing demand for take-home formats.

The move is the first major one since the brand was acquired by PepsiCo late last year and UK distribution moved to Britvic from Barr Soft Drinks.

The refresh aims to recruit new shoppers into the energy drinks market by “making the brand more accessible to a wider audience through a bold and more premium design”. The activity will be supported with digital, in-store and out of home activations.

Already a well-known and recognised brand in the UK and the third-biggest energy drink in the world [Euromonitor, 2020], Rockstar is also reformulating its Original flavour to further improve taste and will include the additional benefit of Vitamin C.

The brand’s pack redesign also includes strong flavour messaging, positioning it as the ‘go-to’ energy drink at a time when stimulants account for 78% of the total soft drinks value growth in the last three years [Nielsen, Mar 2021].

Phil Sanders, Out-of-Home Commercial Director at Britvic, comments: “The impactful new look includes our price-marked-pack cans, which are essential for convenience retailers as they allow stores to offer value to their customers. We have also seen more people doing their main shop at their local convenience store, so the take-home four-pack offer will allow shoppers to purchase Rockstar for drinking later too.”

The entire range will be available in a 500ml format, with Rockstar Original also being available in the take-home four-pack. The relaunch will be supported from 14 June via the brand’s new international platform ‘Life is your stage’ – which will include a digital campaign, in-store, out-of-home, and digital points of sale.

‘Life is Your Stage’ debuts with three pieces of content that celebrate the grit and determination of those powering through their daily hustle.

The films follow the stories of three go-getters, sharing their hard work, passion, progress, and what helps them succeed.

Suntory energy top tips

We recently worked with independent retailer Umesh Patel of UP1 News, Silvertown, East London, to find out how small changes can help to grow soft drinks sales:

Block your soft drinks by category

It’s important to group the same types of drinks together. After putting all flavoured carbs together in one block in the chiller, sales in this category grew 7.1%. This will also help shoppers find what they want more easily.

Within each category, arrange by format

Range formats within each category together so they flow smoothly. Putting colas together, for example, and then segmenting this section further into cans and formats, will improve the ‘shopability’ of the category by making it easier to find the right format.

Block energy by category and highlight your take-home offer

Energy and sports drinks account for 30% of total soft drinks sales in convenience [IRI, Nov 2020], so it’s an important segment of any retailers’ chiller, with drinks satisfying different shopper needs. By blocking sports and energy by need state – starting with stimulants, flowing into sports, then energy and finally natural energy, customers will be able to easily find the right drink for the right occasion.

Flavour focus

Suntory is also focused on the importance of both NPD and flavours in energy, as Gouldsmith explains: “We know how important new drinks are to the soft drinks category and we’ve continued to build on our portfolio with innovative flavours. Most recently, Lucozade Energy introduced a new addition to its range – Lucozade Energy Raspberry Ripple. Raspberry Ripple is an iconic and nostalgic concept among British consumers, and we’re confident that the combination of such a great-tasting flavour and the Lucozade Energy brand will be a hit with shoppers.”

As well as this, Lucozade Energy Citrus Chill launched last year. Available in 380ml PMP and standard packs, the new lemon & lime flavour alone has already added £1.73m [IRI, Nov 2020] in category sales.