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Dispensing Strategies: An Extra Jolt

An Extra Jolt

April 1, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois


Feeling a bit sluggish, are we? Are there too many obligations
scheduled into too few hours of the day? Have you found yourself
wishing you could morph into some sort of superhero? You’re not alone.
Our society is one on the run – we juggle our various lives like circus
performers. How do we get it all done?

Feeling a bit sluggish, are we? Are there too many obligations scheduled into too few hours of the day? Have you found yourself wishing you could morph into some sort of superhero? You’re not alone. Our society is one on the run – we juggle our various lives like circus performers. How do we get it all done?

According to research, it seems that we get by with a little help from our friend … those beverages falling into the category know as “energy drinks.” Consumers are looking to recharge their internal batteries and they’re making the fortified beverage sector a major success story.

The numbers don’t lie; energy drinks are posting impressive growth. Traditional carbonated soft drinks accounted more than half of all beverage sales by volume this past year. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), total sales in the soft drink category fell by a bit more than one per cent during the year 2006. Compare these results to sales of energy drinks, which increased by almost 50 per cent, and you can see the energy drink category is literally where the action is.


The question is who’s drinking these beverages?

Is it time-starved, sleep-deprived Baby Boomers looking for a gentle boost or is it Echo Boomers looking for a rush?
Actually, it’s both and understanding and effectively targeting these two different markets is the key to success in this category.

Many energy drinks have as much sugar and roughly three times the caffeine of regular soda. This has many health-care experts worried. Some medical specialists believe the popularity of some energy drinks is linked to their addictiveness.

Sporting exciting names like Full Throttle, Rockstar and Adrenaline Rush, critics suggest that these drinks are fostering caffeine addiction among teenagers. Experts worry because caffeine consumption can result in hyperactivity and restlessness among children and is known to increase the excretion of calcium, a mineral much needed to support growing bones. Those companies manufacturing and marketing energy drinks say they do not market to children and their products have no more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee. This may be a moot point.

Scientists at Johns Hop-kins University School of Medicine, report that the amount of caffeine necessary to produce dependency and withdrawal symptoms is about 100 milligrams a day. A can of energy drink has 80 to 160 milligrams, depending on the size. An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains roughly 100 to 150 milligrams.

In 2005 four countries barred the sale of energy drinks because of unacceptable levels of caffeine: France, Denmark, Norway and Argentina. We do know that the primary consumers of energy drinks are men ages 20 to 30, however the category definitely attracts younger users.

Bevmark reports that consumers of the energy drink category do skew down to 12- and 13-year-olds. It’s been suggested that these drinks appeal to youth as a means of making them feel more powerful. Some of the advertising copy “flirts” with drug-like suggestiveness. “Meet your new addiction! 16 oz’s of super charged energy with advanced components and a great berry-passion fruit flavor,” once boasted the front page of Pepsi’s SoBe No Fear website. The copy has since been softened.

Cans of Kronik Energy, made by an Arizona company, warn customers, “Caution: May Be Psychologically Ad-dicting,” delivered as a dare rather than a serious warning.

Controversy aside, the macho souped-up jolt beverages appeal to the twenty-somethings.
Target your product mix appropriately. The Baby Boomers also want their energy elixir; they just go about it differently.

The BMC suggests that the liquid refreshment beverage market is being driven by the health and wellness trend, “The report claims that the ‘astronomical growth’ of the energy drink category is partly because these products are more successfully tapping into the spirit of the age, which is characterized by a greater emphasis on functional, healthy products.”

Functional foods are considered to be a food with medicinal benefits. Baby Boomers are attracted to those energy beverages with gentler enhancing ingredients. These ingredients include ginseng, ginkgo and B vitamins. Approximately 35 per cent percent of energy drink users are over the age of 35, with males representing approximately 65 per cent of the market (Mintel Energy Drink report 2006).

These “kinder, gentler” functional beverages contain specific ingredients that often target health issues near and dear to Baby Boomer hearts. Functional juices have been credited for contributing to strong growth of the overall beverages market, which is expanding by a compound annual growth rate of almost 11 per cent. Sales in func-tional juices were up by 73 per cent between 2003 and 2008, particularly in the U.S.

Calcium-enriched juices are well established in America with no price premium and a wide choice of brands, including private label products. Many women over the age of 50 are concerned with osteoporosis. This type of product truly targets that concern.

We also may be literally drinking from the fountain of youth next year when the love child of L’Oreal Cosmetics and Coca-Cola hits the market. Named Lumaé, this functional beverage is targeting “active, influential, image-conscious women over the age of 25 who embrace health and wellness.”

Coke is planning to distribute Lumaé like a beauty brand instead of a soft drink. The plan is to sell Lumaé in upscale department stores (instead of Coke’s usual venues, like C-stores).  Lumaé is a tea-based ready-to-drink beverage expected to contain ingredients that will help women care for their skin.

Twenty-something men may be the early adopters of the energy drink, but it’s clear that this category will find a way to target the “super hero” lurking in every age and gender. This category is poised to go places we’ve never even dreamed of. It’s definitely worth staying “plugged in” to its development.

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