Nikki Allen speaks to Avtar Sidhu, owner of Simply Fresh in Kenilworth, to find out how retailers can make more from functional and energy drinks this summer.

Big Flavours

Gone are the days when shoppers were happy for their energy drinks to come in one or two flavours. Consumers are looking for a wide range of options.

“There’s been a lot of marketing support and new products and flavours launching in the energy drinks category in the last few years – I think it’s a big part of why the category is so successful,” says Avtar Sidhu, of Simply Fresh in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

Consumers are demanding more choice from the category, which is driving growth. Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, says fruity flavours like Relentless Cherry, Apple & Kiwi and Passion Punch are popular.

Adrian Troy, marketing director for AG Barr, agrees. “Brands offering a range of flavours are popular because they don’t define how an energy drink should taste,” he explains.

Flavours not only drive spend, they also can attract new customers, especially if you can offer a wider range than your competition.

Mark Sterratt, head of market, strategy & planning at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, says: “Fans of flavours will keep returning to their local convenience store to purchase drinks.”

Sidhu says you should make sure your range dedicates enough space to major brands as these are what your shoppers are looking for. “Energy drinks are one of the biggest drivers of footfall and profits in our store,” he adds.

“Big brands like Red Bull and Monster sell really well for us, especially in multipacks, so we always make sure we’re well stocked.”

Vitamin Drinks

While taste and flavour are important to shoppers, consumers want drinks that do more than just taste good and quench their thirst, says Nyree Chambers, head of marketing for Grace Foods.

“Shoppers are looking to functional drinks to help fuel their busy lifestyles, and provide much-needed nutrition on the go,” she says. “Functional dairy drinks like Nurishment act as a convenient ‘gap-filler’.”

Vitamin-enriched waters are more popular than ever, with 33% of consumer drinking them.

Jon Burton, Landmark Wholesale senior trading controller, says: “Shoppers are looking for healthier options to reduce tiredness and boost energy levels.” 

“Soft drinks with an added function, like vitamins, minerals or even iced coffees with caffeine, are doing really well,” agrees Sidhu. “I’d urge other independent retailers to stock up.”

Protein Drinks

Protein drinks are growing faster in convenience than in any other channel.

Kirsty Birks, Boost strategy director, says: “This shows independent retailers have an opportunity to grow sales in an innovative new category.” The supplier launched Protein Boost in January, which contains 20g of protein and less than 150 calories.

A big part of the success of protein drinks is down to consumers’ busy lifestyles and increased concerns about health.

“More shelf space is now being allocated to nutritious drinks rather than sugar-laden soft drinks, and with breakfast habits evolving, retailers should tap into this opportunity,” recommends Zoe Brimfield, Weetabix brand manager.

It’s not yet clear if protein drinks will be a long-term trend, but the sector presents convenience retailers with increased sales right now.

“There’s no denying protein is a real trend at the moment and we’re seeing a lot of sales,” says Sidhu, “but I don’t know if they’ll still be so popular in a year’s time.”