New formats and sugar-free variants continue to fuel the sports and energy market.
by Gaelle Walker
Currently worth £1.6bn and growing at 14.2% year on year, according to IRI Marketplace data, energy drinks are the biggest and most profitable drink-now segment in the UK.
And with more than one in three soft drinks sold in convenience stores now an energy drink, sports and energy is a market which local retailers can’t afford to lose sight of, especially given the breakneck speed of NPD.
Larger sizes and flavours continue to drive growth and developments in the sector, according to Barr Soft Drinks, with Big Can Energy “driving the growth” at 22%.
Flavours also continue to pack a punch with flavoured energy now accounting for over half of all volume sold. Interestingly, much of this growth is now being driven by more mature energy drinkers on the lookout for products which better meet their tastes as they age, Barr Marketing Director Adrian Troy says.
“Consumers are increasingly opting for flavoured variants when choosing an energy drink, with flavoured energy now accounting for 34% of the mainstream energy market and growing faster than original energy, he adds.
The trend gave rise to a myriad of new product launches in 2021, including the arrival of Rubicon RAW which is made with 20% real fruit juice, caffeine from green coffee beans and B-vitamins to provide “a big energy hit” that is also “full of flavour.”
The levy-free 500ml Rubicon RAW range is currently available in plain pack and £1.29 PMP plus a new 4x500ml multipack.
With the advent of HFSS legislation looming large south of the border, sugar, or more precisely the lack of it, also continues to shape innovation and fuel shopper demand, as the number of consumers actively seeking healthier energy boosts on-the-go continues to climb.
“Sugar is an important component of energy for the majority of consumers, but a growing number are looking for a lower calorie or even sugar free option,” Troy adds.
“Some energy drinkers may want zero sugar energy, but they don’t want it to look, feel, perform or taste different to regular energy drinks.”
Barr’s recently launched 500ml Irn-Bru Energy format is available in both full sugar and no sugar formats to appeal to both camps.
Red Bull also recently extended its multipack offering with the launch of a new Sugarfree Price Marked Multipack, exclusively in symbol and independent convenience stores.
“We’re dedicated to offering consumers more choice when it comes to their soft drink options in-store,” a spokesman for Red Bull said.
“Thirty per cent of our impulse customers only purchase sugar free sports and energy drinks, and with a record number of shoppers – 1.4 million Red Bull sugarfree buyers in the last 12 months – it’s evident the demand is there for our latest pack-format.”
“With insight showing that sugar-free products are integral to recruitment of lost shoppers within the convenience channel, the latest multipack launch will increase the presence of no sugar variants on shelf, driving more users, more often and on more occasions,” he added.