The top trending behaviours in sports and energy drinks

Understanding and adapting to new and long-term trends is vital to succeeding in energy drinks. Tamara Birch runs through what to focus on

Energy drink ban

The energy drinks overview

The sports and energy drinks category totals more than £276.4m versus 2021 and added more than £197.7m in value.

The market continues to grow, with more flavours, formats and brands launching each year. Most recently, Coca- Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) expanded its Monster range with two new flavours, Monster Ultra Gold and Monster Juiced Khaotic.

Martin Attock, vice president of commercial development at CCEP, says of the launch: “Monster Khaotic is a shake-up of one of the original Monster Juiced varieties launched more than a decade ago when real fruit juice was first combined with the functionality of energy drinks. Today, the Monster Juiced range is worth £75m and is in 60% growth.”

Meanwhile, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I’s (SBF GB&I) Lucozade Alert is expanding its range, with an Original variety joining the brand’s Tropical and Cherry flavours.

Matt Gouldsmith, channel director for wholesale at SBF GB&I, says: “Stimulation energy drinks have had year-on-year growth of more than 22%. New flavours are important for retailers to continue to drive excitement and provide different options for shoppers in this growing category.”

Trends come and go, especially in a fast-moving category such as soft drinks, but building a range based on long-term trends will maintain sales. Reviewing your range regularly using sales data and keeping up with trade press and product launches will help boost sales. Long-term trends include the shift towards value and low- and no-sugar lines; the increased demand for added benefits, such as extra vitamins; and the boom in new flavours.

It’s all about flavours

“Flavoured energy drinks now account for more than half of all volume sold, so it’s important retailers offer a wide range of formats to cater for all shoppers,” says Adrian Troy, marketing director at Barr Soft Drinks.

Vasanti Jesani, of Cellar 57 in Atherton, Greater Manchester, says the energy drinks market is dominated by flavour. “Shoppers love the Monster Original, Punch and Mango flavours, and other trends don’t really come into play,” she says. “Shoppers like trying new flavours.”

Barr Soft Drinks recently launched Rubicon Raw Apple & Guava to help retailers capitalise on demand for new flavours. Troy adds: “In market research, consumers said Rubicon Raw delivers on taste and interesting flavours more than its big-can energy competitive set.

“The Rubicon Raw Apple & Guava flavour allows us to grow our brand, but, more importantly, it allows retailers to invigorate and excite their category with a product that has delivered exceptional results in consumer research.”

The challenge for many convenience store owners is knowing which flavours to stock, and a large portion of maximising the opportunity is trial and error. Retailers could monitor the success of any new flavours using EPoS data. If a product hasn’t sold consistently for eight-to-12 weeks, consider delisting.

Troy also recommends making space on the fixture for different energy flavours. He says: “Consumers are increasingly choosing flavoured varieties when choosing an energy drink, with flavoured energy now accounting for 35% of the mainstream energy market and growing faster than original energy.

“Energy should be given its fair share of space on the fixture to offer the choice of flavours that shoppers are looking for, which will ultimately increase retailer’s profits.”

Top products

Lucozade Alert Original

SBF GB&I has expanded its range with the launch of Lucozade Alert Original. The flavour aims to build on the success of its Tropical Burst and Cherry flavours, which generated £1m in sales in less than two months through wholesale and convenience stores.

Monster Ultra Watermelon

The new addition to the Monster Ultra range was launched in February and aims to capitalise on the brand’s zero-sugar range, which is currently growing by 27%. Monster Ultra Watermelon is available in plain and price-marked 500ml cans, as well as four-can multipacks.


Britvic has reduced the sugar content across its Rockstar energy drink range to make it HFSS-compliant. The updated range has less than 4.5g of sugar per 100ml. The updated varieties include Original, Punched Tropical Guava, XDurance Blueberry Pomegranate Acai, Juiced El Mango, Juiced Tropical Punch and Juiced Tropical Orange Passion Fruit.

Boost Energy

Boost Energy is a brand exclusive to independents, giving them a real point of difference. The range has several flavours, including Red Berry, Mango, Cherry and Fruit Punch. The range has an RRP of 65p and is available in different formats. Retailers can also stock a sugar-free option.

Red Bull Summer Edition Apricot-Strawberry

Apricot-Strawberry is this year’s Summer Edition flavour from Red Bull. The line is available now in 250ml orange cans in plain and price-marked formats, and aims to drive the continual growth of flavoured options in the sports and energy category. The flavour is also available in a sugar-free variety.

Rubican Raw Apple & Guava

Barr Soft Drinks has expanded its Rubicon Raw range with a Raw Apple & Guava flavour. The flavour joins three existing lines, with 90% of shoppers saying they would buy the flavour again and 87% rating it as good or excellent.

Irn-Bru Energy

Irn-Bru Energy combines the brand’s flavour with the taurine, caffeine, B vitamins and taste of an energy drink. The brand is available in sugar and no-sugar varieties in 330ml and 500ml formats. The 500ml format was launched in December 2021.

Health is playing a part

Low- and no-sugar energy drinks have had faster growth than full-sugar varieties, according to Red Bull, with 21.8% growth versus full-sugar’s 16.9%.

A spokesperson says: “Sugar has played a key role in the sports and energy category as consumers increasingly pick up sugar-free and zero formats that appeal to the more health-conscious shopper. Sugar-free varieties have been growing penetration by 48.8%.”

Barr Soft Drinks’ Troy has also reported this shift, but recognises the importance of offering both options. He says: “Sugar is an important component of energy for most consumers, but a growing number are looking for a lower-calorie or even sugar-free option.

“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.”

Jesani says most of the category is dominated by low- and no-sugar lines, and customers don’t really notice the difference. “We noticed the shift a few years ago and people actually prefer them now, but customers will still choose the latest lines, such as Monster Gold,” she says.

While it’s not a new trend, the demand for these options will increase come October following the introduction of the high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) legislation. Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at CCEP, says: “With 29% of consumers saying they are focused on sugar reduction following the pandemic, and with HFSS due to come into effect later this year, low- and no-sugar options should be high on the agenda with retailers.”

SBF GB&I’s Gouldsmith recommends retailers focus on lower-sugar energy drinks, such as Lucozade Zero. “Lucozade Zero is now worth £20m and retailers should stock drinks like these to capitalise on the ongoing consumer trend towards lower-sugar choices,” he says.

Shoppers want added benefits

Energy drinks are no longer about an instant boost, but one that lasts hours after consumption. SBF GB&I developed a strategy to break down the category into four simple consumer ‘need states’ to help retailers make the most of their range.

“The four states are enjoyable refreshment, uplift & energise, special moments and positive choices,” says Gouldsmith.

“Each of these is based on insights and trends that highlight the headroom for growth, and these will continue to dictate the market in the year ahead. To increase relevance and expand consumption, retailers need to have the right pack, in the right place, for the right occasion.

“We know, for instance, 75% of people are concerned about their levels of tiredness and stress.”

In addition to helping with tiredness and stress, shoppers are turning to energy drinks to maintain their fitness regimes and lifestyles. CCEP’s Burgess says this remains a priority for consumers.

“Shoppers are increasingly looking for food and drink with functional qualities that can help them achieve maximum results during sports or workouts,” she says. “Our Reign Total Body Fuel range is worth £7.56m and growing by 23.3% in retail.

“As well as containing 200mg of naturally-sourced caffeine, the recipe is enriched with branded-chain amino acids to help prevent protein muscle breakdown, L-arginine to improve blood flow and stimulate the release of growth hormones, and vitamins B3, B6 and B12, which can contribute to reducing fatigue and normalising metabolism.”

Top tips

Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

There are a few simple things retailers can do to make their energy fixture work harder and attract more customers. These include:

Always offer chilled

Shoppers are more likely to buy an energy drink for immediate consumption if it’s chilled, so make cold cans available throughout your store. Use Monster-branded chillers for maximum impact.

Low- and no-sugar options

Twenty-nine per cent of consumers say they are focused on sugar reduction following the pandemic, so options such as Monster Ultra – the number-one zero-sugar energy drinks brand in GB – should be high on your agenda.

Pack formats

It’s important to find the right balance between on-the-go and at-home formats, keeping space for both.

In with the new

Make room for new products that will excite shoppers, such as Monster Ultra Watermelon, and activate promotions at point of sale.

Price-marked packs

With value likely to be a priority for consumers, PMPs can be an effective way to deliver this.

Value is increasing

Rising living costs and the energy crisis aside, the shift towards value has been happening for the past few years. Retailers have long been reporting shoppers choosing to buy multipacks and larger formats over on-the-go varieties.

According to SBF GB&I’s Gouldsmith, take-home formats grew during lockdown and, as summer quickly approaches, he recommends moving a selection of these formats to the chiller to boost sales.

Price-marked packs (PMP) are a controversial subject among convenience stores, especially with some offering a reduction in margin. However, some shoppers will switch to buying PMPs in a bid to help them budget, especially with on-the-go formats.

Despite this noticeable shift towards larger formats, on-the-go formats have grown since lockdown restrictions were lifted. Gouldsmith says: “Across the whole soft drinks market, 500ml and 330ml formats have had more than 20% and 11% year-on-year growth, respectively. Retailers should stock up on on-the-go formats of popular soft drinks, such as Lucozade Zero and Lucozade Energy, to capitalise on this ongoing trend.”

Energy drink consumers are brand loyal, though, according to Red Bull. “Shoppers will actively look for their drink of choice when seeking a functional boost, with 33% of consumers always going for their favourite brand and choosing it regardless of their venue or situation,” says a spokesperson for the manufacturer.

Despite this, however, Jesani has strong success in Booker’s own-label energy drinks range. “Some shoppers are motivated by price, so we stock the range to offer an alternative, helping to drive sales,” she says.

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