Innovation re-energises sales

Energy drinks

A raft of innovative new energy drink launches has helped generate fresh consumer interest as well as sales at the till in this all-important category.

Retailers won’t need reminding that the energy drink sector remains the star of the overall soft drinks category. It continues to go from strength to strength and is now worth over £1bn in retail in the UK [Nielsen, Dec 2018], accounting for between 60% and 70% of all soft drinks sales.

While the category is now a mature one, a fresh burst of NPD is driving enthusiasm and interest in the category among shoppers. A great example is the launch of Coca-Cola Energy, a move that took much of the industry by surprise.

Coca-Cola Energy is the first energy drink released under the Coca-Cola brand and has created quite a stir among retailers. With the iconic Coca-Cola taste and feeling that millions of shoppers already know and love, Coca-Cola Energy features caffeine from naturally-derived sources, guarana extracts, B vitamins and, interestingly, contains no taurine.

Available in 250ml cans and in two variants – with and without sugar – Coca-Cola Energy is already appearing in stores across Scotland.

The combination of naturally-derived ingredients and the huge power of the Coca-Cola brand already appears to be landing well with both shoppers and retailers.

Javier Meza, Coca-Cola Global Chief Marketing Officer for Sparkling Business commented: “We kept these two qualities – naturally-derived ingredients and the Coca-Cola brand – at the heart of how we developed the recipe and are proud to invite people to try a new and different energy drink that is designed to complement upbeat and busy lives.”

The product has its own, individual brand identity and packaging but is also unmistakably a Coca-Cola product which will no doubt help drive trial.

Merchandising for profit

Rich Fisher, Category Development Manager at Red Bull UK, offers the following advice on how to merchandise for profit:


  • Stock the most effective range to drive the greatest value for your store
  • To maximise sales and profits, category space in-store should be in line with share of value sales

Focus on top five brands

  • 50-60% of soft drinks space should be allocated to the top five brands
  • Ensure 60-70% of your soft drinks space is allocated to sports and energy brands, in line with share of the category

Vertical blocking

  • Shoppers only see products within a 1.3m breadth
  • Vertical blocking helps shoppers to easily find the product they are looking for, improving their ease of shop

The launch of Coca-Cola Energy, however, does not mean that Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has taken its eye off the leading Monster brand and energy range that it distributes in the UK under licence.

Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at CCEP, comments: “Monster Energy has been the driving force in the sector for a number of years and is now worth more than £200m in GB, growing in value by over 20% [Nielsen, Dec 2018].”

New innovation from Monster aims to keep that trend going with the recent launch of Monster Espresso. Burgess explains: “The RTD coffee sector is set to more than double over the next 10 years and in March, Monster Energy unveiled its first range of RTD coffee drinks.”

Available in a premium ‘touch ink’ black 250ml can, Espresso Monster is a unique blend of real brewed coffee and Monster energy that was designed to appeal to coffee lovers and energy drink fans alike.

“Monster Energy’s new venture into the RTD coffee drink sector is available in two creamy variants – Espresso & Milk and Vanilla Espresso,” says Burgess. “The product is unique as it is the only cold coffee drink on the market with caffeine content that can rival a hot coffee and will enable us to attract new drinkers to both the energy and RTD coffee sectors, whilst delighting Monster’s core fanbase with our continued investment into exciting and great tasting innovation.”

Also launched recently is Monster Ultra Blue, as Burgess highlights: “The Monster Energy Ultra range is currently worth over £50m and has grown by £15.8m in the past year [Nielsen, Aug 2018] highlighting consumer demand for low-calorie, energy drinks that don’t compromise on flavour.

“In response to this, we’ve continued to evolve our portfolio even further and create more choice for our growing fan base with the launch of Monster Energy Ultra Blue – a sparkling, citrus and berry, low calorie energy drink.

“The new variant will help retailers to maximise on the demand for low calorie, flavoured energy drinks, which are in 59% value growth and the fastest growing segment in energy [Nielsen, Nov 2018]. Monster Energy is one of the driving forces behind this growth, contributing 88.1% value sales to the flavoured low-calorie energy segment [Nielsen, Nov 2018].”

As with the entire Monster Ultra range, Monster Energy Ultra Blue is Soft Drinks Tax exempt and will appeal to people looking for a great-tasting energy boost without the calories.

Merchandising for an effective fixture

Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, has the following tips to help retailers merchandise for an effective fixture:

  • Capitalise on people looking to enjoy their energy drinks straight away by focusing on your chilled soft drinks offering.
  • Where space is available, secondary siting is a great way to help boost sales in-store by appealing to mission shoppers by highlighting the products they need.
  • Once the main display has been utilised, showcase products in other areas such as close to the entrance of the store, aisle ends or adjacent to the till queuing lane to help attract shoppers’ attention and prompt purchase.
  • Proactively look ahead to see which notable sporting, TV moments or events are coming up and consider putting together displays themed around these events to leverage the high level of interest that can be generated ahead of these occasions.

Meanwhile, that other giant of energy – Red Bull – has also been making good use of its NPD department with several creative and innovative new lines designed to help retailer grow their sales and bring new shoppers into the category.

Mark Bell, Strategy and Planning Manager at Red Bull UK, comments: “Overall, Red Bull is growing at 8.4% in value and 12% in volume [IRI, Apr 2018], performing particularly well in Take Home (+8.0% value) and Symbols (+7.0% value) [IRI, Jan 2019].”

A total of 6.79 billion cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide in 2018, representing an increase of 7.7% against an already very successful 2017.

Recent NPD will help to build on that success as Bell comments: “The UK’s number one energy drink brand, Red Bull, has continued the momentum behind its successful track record of launching innovative flavours, bringing a brand-new addition to the Editions range with the introduction of new Red Bull Coconut Berry Edition.

“Launched for the first time in the UK, Red Bull Coconut Berry Edition offers the energy boost of Red Bull with the taste of coconut. The innovation comes packaged in a premium white can – a first from Red Bull. Launched this March, Coconut Berry is available in both Energy and Sugarfree variants (250ml) to provide consumers with choice in the energy drinks category that Red Bull has always championed.”

The new lines complement the launch last year of Red Bull’s Organics range which taps into the consumer demand for organically certified food and drink products. The lines are 100% natural and organically certified and the range includes Simply Cola, Ginger Ale, Tonic Water and Bitter Lemon.”

Most recently, Red Bull extended its multipack offering with the launch of a new 355ml 4-pack. The launch comes as a result of the growing success of the 355ml format as the UK’s third largest sports and energy drink SKU in the UK [IRI, Sep 2018], adding more growth to the category than other branded pack in the market.

The launch aims to satisfy consumer needs by offering increased choice of different energy sizes and opens up the range of occasions in which the product can be consumed. Multipacks are worth £167m, which equates to 12.5% of the overall sports and energy category [IRI, Sep 2018].

Also new to the category is Rockstar Twister from Barr Soft Drinks, a new range from Scotland’s largest big can flavoured energy brand [IRI, Dec 2018].

Available now in two flavours – Smashed Blue Raspberry and Wacked Red Berry – Rockstar Twister taps into the current trend for retro flavours, offering a full flavour hit at only 25 calories per 100ml.

“The introduction of Rockstar Twister will kickstart energy drinks innovation for 2019, offering the great tasting, full flavour energy boost that shoppers have come to expect from Rockstar, with a retro twist – and fewer calories,” says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks.

Troy recommends that retailers merchandise new Rockstar Twister as part of the ‘on the go’ section of the chiller to meet the needs of busy shoppers. Over one in three purchases in this section is an energy drink, so it’s crucial that retailers offer the right range of products and flavours to meet this need.