Energy drinks brands look to organic ingredients and innovative flavors to tide over difficult times, says GlobalData
Ever more under fire, energy drinks have been linked to a handful of medical conditions and health concerns. The resulting media scrutiny has slowed down the growth of the category. As a result, some of the brands are coming up with innovative launches featuring organic ingredients and innovative flavors to avoid consumer backlash and tide over the difficult times, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.
For some time energy drinks have been associated with childhood behavioral problems and obesity. In response, some countries have introduced laws and regulations restricting the sale and marketing of the beverages while Pakistan’s Punjab Food Authority has even gone as far as banning the ‘energy’ term altogether.
Jim Barker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Amidst such negativity, the global consumption of energy drinks increased by just 5% in 2017, which is notably less than the near double-digit rates achieved in previous years. It is only a matter of time before further limitations are imposed on the category, which are bound to impact sales.”
The approach from leading brands has been to offer ‘clean’ and ‘organic’ beverages, using ingredients like matcha, cascara and guarana. The new flavors offer exciting alternatives to the tried and tested ‘original energy’ formula, which still continues to dominate volumes. In 2017 it accounted for as much as 69% of the category’s global figures.
Red Bull is one of a handful of players actively attempting to change this. While it currently produces low and no sugar variants, the brand’s new ‘Organics’ range is a major departure from its current portfolio. Aimed at mixologists as well as the general consumer, the new drinks are available in four flavors, three of which contain no caffeine.
Barker continues: “This is the start of a major shift towards premium alternatives which will see Red Bull, and eventually others, mimic many leading carbonates brands by targeting high-end consumption.”
Red Bull is not alone. Starbucks uses green coffee in its Starbucks Refreshers and ginseng (also caffeine-free) in its Starbucks Doubleshot Energy. Meanwhile, MatchaBar Hustle, the first carbonated matcha energy drink, offers an unsweetened variant with no more than five calories, as part of an overall aim to offer a “sustained, focused energy”, according to MatchaBar co-founder Graham Fortgang.
Then there is the ‘radically sustainable’ Nomad Energy from Brooklyn-based startup Nomad Trading, which was bolstered by crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The energy drink features cascara, water, lemon juice, maple syrup, Himalayan pink salt and carbon dioxide.
Barker concludes: “Both mainstream and niche brands have discovered the key to potentially healthier energy drinks – the challenge now will be to convince everyone else. Given that the category has so far avoided a global decline, it is well positioned to enjoy another sustained period of growth, as it embarks on this fascinating new era.”