There is no doubt that energy drinks will become the next hot spot in the industry. But where is the next “Red Bull”?
On November 1, Coca-Cola announced that it had acquired all the equity of BodyArmor, a sports drink manufacturer. It is reported that this is a complete acquisition by Coca-Cola following its acquisition of 15% of BodyArmor’s shares at a discounted price in 2018. This time, it used 5.6 billion U.S. dollars in cash to acquire the remaining claims or to strengthen its competition with Pepsi in the field of sports drinks.
At the same time, Yuanqi Forest also quickly launched a second functional drink brand-Big Devil, shortly after Alien. Even the classic domestic sports drink Jianlibao broke the past silence and joined hands with the China Food and Fermentation Industry Research Institute to launch a new generation of “Oriental Magic Water” super-native… I have to admit that such frequent market actions are showing, whether it is Both international and domestic beverage giants are occupying the energy drink market firmly with the big soda filling machine factory.
However, you will find clues when you think about it: Why is the market action so significant. Still, few people around consume energy drinks daily? Why do consumers still have the impression of “Red Bull” when it comes to “energy drinks”? Is the energy drink market not big enough, or is the product not innovative enough? What are the development prospects of energy drinks in the future?
The energy drink market in China and the United States started with Red Bull. Why is the growth rate of the Chinese market much lower than that of the United States?
The development of energy drinks can be traced back to the 1920s. In 1927, Lucozade appeared in the U.K. as the first generation of energy drinks. Red Bull was born in Thailand in 1966. It entered the Chinese market in 1995 and the U.S. market in 1997. Since then, various energy drinks have been introduced.
From the perspective of development time, China is two years earlier than the United States. Still, the industry’s explosive power and growth rate are far lower than the United States. Why did the Chinese market begin to prepare for continuous expansion when the U.S. market has completed the new round of giant mergers and acquisitions? There are three reasons:
(1) Consumption environment. At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the urbanization rate in the United States had reached a relatively high level. The pace of life of urban residents was relatively fast, and there was a greater demand for “energy supplements”. At that time, China had just entered the era of an entire market economy, with the level of urbanization. Lower.
(2) Consumption capacity. At the end of the 20th century, driven by new technology and the Internet, the U.S. economy increased. Per capita, disposable income reached 22,304 U.S. dollars in 1998 (the per capita disposable income of Chinese urban residents was only 5,425 yuan during the same period). At a high level, the demand for beverages, especially non-essential energy drinks, has begun to rise.
(3) Category selection. With the long-term cultivation of giants such as “Two Music”, the U.S. soft drink industry has become more mature. At the end of the 1990s, carbonated beverages were at the peak of their prosperity, fruit juice sales were challenging to grow and began to decline, and the diversified demand for soft drinks consumption was robust. At this time, energy drinks became the stage for many companies to transform and seek new growth. As for the way out, a large number of companies swarmed up, completing consumer education and expanding the category in just a few years. At that time, many types in the Chinese soft drink market were in the introduction and growth phase, showing a trend of blooming flowers, and companies entered the soft drink competition. The choice of Tao is very diverse.
How did the U.S. energy drink market develop?
So, how did energy drinks develop in the thriving American market?
First of all, under the general trend of personalized and healthy consumption, carbonated beverages are declining, and energy drinks with a qualified soft drink bottling equipment factory are ushering in the movement.
Since the 1960s, the sales volume of traditional carbonated beverages represented by cola has accelerated in the United States. It has become the largest beverage category in the early 1990s. However, prosperity must decline. After the consumption of carbonated beverages peaked in 1998, fatigue began to appear. Even after 2005, the total consumption continued to decrease. Behind the decline of the market, the change in consumer demand has gradually become the “invisible hand”:
(1) Personalized appeals are improved, and alternatives are emerging one after another. Since the 1980s, as the urbanization rate and per capita disposable income in the United States have continued to rise, consumers’ pursuit of personalization of consumer products has also increased, promoting the diversified development of categories-flavoured bottled water, various functional beverages, New categories such as RTD coffee and tea drinks have been extensively developed, filling the market vacancies in the past and being enthusiastically sought after by consumers.
(2) The improvement of consumption level drives the increase of residents’ health awareness. According to a survey conducted by the American Fitness Product Review Board, in the ten years from 1987 to 1997, the number of people exercising on treadmills in the U.S. surged from more than 4 million to 36 million. An unprecedented peak. The fitness trend is sweeping, and consumers are paying more and more attention to “struggling + healthy eating”. Their awareness of the unhealthy attributes of traditional carbonated beverages high in sugar and calories has also strengthened. At this moment, sports drinks are taking advantage of the trend. Upper position. In the few years when the sales of carbonated beverages reached their peak after Red Bull entered the market, American functional beverages have formed an independent category, quietly preparing for the subsequent outbreak.
The “branding” era of American energy drinks began with Red Bull.
In 1997, Red Bull Europe, headquartered in Austria, fully entered the U.S. market, first selling Red Bull energy drinks with their high end carbonated drink filling machine factory in Southern California and gradually achieving national sales. It is worth noting that before Red Bull entered the U.S. market, there was no place in the energy drink category, and Red Bull had only one single product when it first entered. In the face of mature large-scale distribution networks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Red Bull will focus on convenience stores, fashionable clubs and bars, and formulate sales plans based on the divided sales areas, relying on small specialized distributor warehouses and The logistics trucks with the Red Bull brand logo carry out the in-depth distribution. Media advertising will be carried out after the market is mature to strengthen brand awareness. After this series of operations, Red Bull was quickly accepted and popularized by Americans who pay more attention to sports health and consume caffeine.
Under the leadership of Red Bull, the U.S. energy drink market began to rapidly expand. Around 2000-2002, various brands entered the venue one after another. The track slowly evolved into two categories: one is energy drink brands launched by traditional beverage giants through acquisitions or self-cultivation, such as Sobe and AMP under Pepsi, and Coca-Cola under KMX, Budweiser’s Citrus Flavor 180, etc.; the other category is newly established or emerging brands transformed from other soft drinks, such as Rockstar, Monster, etc. During the seven years from 2000 to 2007, the retail sales of the energy drink market in the United States increased from the initial US$310 million to US$7.76 billion, with an average annual growth rate of 58.7%.
It must be mentioned here that a rising star, Monster, has surpassed Red Bull to become the largest share of the energy drink industry in the United States in just a few years. Monster’s predecessor was Hansen Natural Corporation, headquartered in California. As a local manufacturer with natural juice and soda water as its primary business provided by their soft drink bottling equipment factory , it has a keen sense of the industry’s development under growth pressure. It has tried to launch energy drink products at the early stage of market growth.
In 2002, Hansen Beverages completed a comprehensive reform and officially launched the Monster brand. Monster captures the personalized development trend of the U.S. beverage industry by focusing on young people, keeping abreast of consumer demands, and bringing forth new ideas. It becomes the core brand of the company and the market in one fell swoop. The following year, its best-selling momentum started a period of rapid growth for nearly 10 years. During this period, the company actively expanded overseas and reached in-depth cooperation with Coca-Cola to strengthen its product portfolio and distribution capabilities, and basically formed a global market coverage. By 2015, Monster’s retail sales share in the U.S. energy drink market had reached 43.6%, surpassing Red Bull’s 41.8% and won the crown.
Break out tea and coffee wine,
How do Chinese energy drinks overtake?
Compared with other traditional categories, energy drinks are a rising star in China. Although the market size is not as large as that of the United States, it is still ascendant and promising. From a horizontal perspective, tea, coffee, and alcohol are the three hottest categories in the current market. They have similar (addiction) attributes. Energy drinks themselves are also “addictive drinks”, satisfying consumers’ daily boost for refreshment and supplementation. The energy demand also has the potential to take over tea, coffee and wine.
At present, the functional drink track is mainly divided into three camps: one is the giant Red Bull with a market share of 55% (2020); the second is local brands such as Dongpeng, Lehu, and Physique Energy; and the third is represented by Yuanqi Forest The new cutting-edge brand. In addition to traditional energy drink companies, cross-track players such as Yili, By-Health, and New Hope also entered the game.
Since 2016, Red Bull has been deeply involved in trademark disputes. The internal friction of the brand has caused its market share to decline rapidly. At the same time, because the addition of synthetic caffeine requires health care product approval, the application period is as long as 4-5 years. Hence, most late entrants Use natural coffee extracts, tea, ginseng, and other plant bases to cut in. The selling point focuses on more natural and healthy new energy supplements. Therefore, more eyes will naturally focus on the second camp represented by Dongpeng and Lehu.
According to data from Ranshu Technology, the top three in total online sales of functional beverages in 2020 are Red Bull, Pulse and Dongpeng. The overall brand effect of the e-commerce sales market is noticeable, and the top brand status is stable. Electrolyte water has become a new growth point in the industry, with a growth rate of 224%.
In this year’s Double Eleven Tmall “Functional Drink Hot List”, two Red Bulls of different specifications dominated the top two, Dongpeng ranked sixth, and Monster rushed into the top ten; at the same time, it was in the Tmall “Functional Drinks Praise List” “In, Red Bull still ranked first, but Dongpeng jumped to the second and third place, followed by Le Tiger. From this point of view, consumers’ acceptance and preference for local brands are rising. Although Red Bull is still far ahead in the Chinese functional beverage market, the “rising stars” catching-up momentum cannot be underestimated, especially its largest domestic rival Dongdong. Peng special drink. “Top brands” are rising rapidly and have become an important driving force for the growth of this category.
The above data does not include complete reduction, return and other behaviours. Image source: Ranshu Technology Public Account
Of course, even if the overall demand for functional beverages shows an upward trend, it does not mean that the market is standing still. On the contrary, brands should follow the rapid momentum and stabilize the needs of traditional consumers, pay attention to the diverse needs of emerging consumers, and carry out product innovation. Looking around the global energy drink market, there are 4 significant innovation directions worthy of our reference:
First, breakthrough the traditional consumer groups in the market and win the favour of marginal consumers. In the early days, due to the ingredients, the core consumers of energy drinks were men. Their consumption scenes mainly were focused on exercise, working overtime, staying up late, etc., to meet functional needs such as refreshing, anti-fatigue, and replenishing energy. However, with the gradual advancement of the modernization process, people finally realized that the operational needs of men are not just refreshing and reloading animation. Similarly, the functional requirements of women and more other consumer groups have not been paid attention to and satisfied. In addition, in the context of the “her economy” sweeping the world, it is even more urgent to attach importance to the female market.
Go Girl is a Clean Energy Drink that was born in California, the USA, in 2005. By looking at the name, you can know that this is a functional herbal beverage specially designed and manufactured for women. Its ingredients include inositol, taurine, etc., which are needed for energy, rich in B vitamins needed by the human body, and mixed with mild herbal appetite suppressants. The overall calorie content is less than 5 calories. The carbohydrate is less than 1 gram, which entirely solves women’s demand for beauty and a light body. In addition, Go Girl also specially emphasized “isn’t just a drink — it’s a way of life!” to give full play to its brand mission and gain the love of many women who pursue a healthy lifestyle.
Not only women but children have also become the focus of energy drink brands. Berri Lyte is a group of electrolyte drinks for children, providing children with natural hydrating solutions. It is made of organic cleaning ingredients, the raw materials are natural and clean. At the same time, the calories of traditional sports drinks are reduced by half, and the sugar content is reduced by more than 30%. And most importantly, it has passed the certification of a pediatrician, which fundamentally eliminates parents’ concerns about the perception that it is a “functional drink”.
The domestic market also has similar products developed for children. Scream (fibre beverage) under the farmer’s banner has won the love of many teenagers and even children because of its unique sucking bottle top packaging and light taste. However, considering the vast domestic children’s group, the current children’s energy drink market is still promising. Designing products that meet the characteristics of children’s physiological metabolism and highly match the way of drinking and the amount of drinking is still a place where domestic brands need to think deeply.
Secondly, energy drinks began to explore multiple circles and multiple scenes. At present, the consumer group of energy drinks not only breaks through gender but also extends to all age groups and occupational groups. From the perspective of significant consumer circles, the main force has gradually expanded from drivers, blue-collar workers, and couriers who have worked long hours in the past to white-collar workers, students and other groups. The consumption scene is gradually changing from working overtime, staying up late, and after sports. The “fatigue” scene gradually extends to more casual consumption scenes such as parties, travel, and daily life. The replenishment of energy after mental work is going in parallel with manual labour, and the replenishment of energy for different scenarios in foreign markets is becoming more targeted. For example, Mawé is an energy drink specifically for outdoor travel enthusiasts and professionals. Its most prominent feature is low sugar and no caffeine. It adds a variety of B vitamins as a substitute. It is a vegan-friendly drink.
In addition, brands have also noticed the growing field of e-sports. Not only do domestic Dongpeng special drinks exclusively sponsor e-sports events, but there is also a Japanese brand Otsuka that invites well-known Japanese e-sports players and game characters as product endorsements to ideally target e-sports players such as e-sports. And consumer groups that require long hours of mental work, such as busy office workers, every day.
Third, healthy lifestyles are fashionable, and natural, clean, and compound energy supplements are more favoured. At present, there are countless physical diseases caused by the accumulation of pressure in life and work. At the same time, under the normalization of the epidemic situation, more and more people are paying more attention to their own health, and people tend to choose more natural, green and healthy products.
Taste. As a result, more and more “0 sugar, low calorie” beverages have begun to take advantage of it. In the energy drink track, the traditional raw materials are dominated by taurine and caffeine, but they have their own benefits. “Addictive” and other characteristics also discourage most consumers; even in the process of using it will produce a certain degree of psychological pressure. And Up To Good Sparkling Energy Beverage from the United States noticed this gap, using the discarded coffee cherries as the primary raw material and natural plant extracts such as lemon juice as the formula to make a new sugar-free energy drink.
In addition, a single energy supplement is no longer the only pursuit of consumers. They more hope to meet several needs in one product at the same time. Therefore, mixed energy drinks are quick to split the market share. In San Diego, an organic cashew nut vanilla yerba mate tea energy gel realizes the three-in-one function of “energy supply, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, and supplement of trace elements”, and this is only a 30g bag of instant beverages, which is just like contemporary It’s no surprise that the fast-paced life can be favoured by consumers.
Finally, the traditional definitions of ingredients and shapes are blurred, and cross-border energy drinks are becoming a trend. There are cooperative innovations in the same category, and cross-border integration is also being tried in different tracks. In the previous article, we have analyzed: To cater to the tastes of young consumers, Crown Royal has launched a robust 14-level cocktail of “whiskey + fruit + brewing tea” to build a bridge between whiskey and cocktail lovers. It can be seen that the significant beverage markets are rushing out of their own fields to seek cross-border integration, and energy drinks are naturally following. For example, Revive’s newly launched series of energy drinks. However, the packaging looks the same as traditional tea. Still, in fact, the product is based on traditional kombucha and added ginger and green tea caffeine. Suppose you have a chance to taste it. In that case, you will be captured by the slightly ginger flavour and the astringent “strange taste” of black tea, which will change your understanding of fermented beverages.
Coconut water giant Vita is also eager to give it a try, launching a water-based coconut beverage Vita Coco Boosted, which still follows the characteristics of its “natural, unprocessed extract” product and provides consumers with a new way to obtain energy and energy.
Energy drink innovation, in addition to the dimensions of product materials and forms, consumer groups and scenes actively embrace the background of increasing urbanization rate, and focus on the development of cost-effective products is also an opportunity for brands to pay attention to.
A new round of consumption boom has arrived, and growth and structural opportunities coexist in my country’s energy drink industry. In the context of the continuous expansion of the consumer market, if energy drink brands can learn from the growth experience of overseas model brands, embrace the most mainstream consumer groups, focus on their genuine demands, and create a brand image that can truly enter the hearts of consumers, perhaps A “Red Bull” and “Monster” will be born!
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