Coca-Cola launches first energy drink under the Coke brand

Coca-Cola Energy, which will launch in the UK in the spring, is part of the company’s continuing commitment to branch out from its core fizzy drinks category to become ‘a total-beverage company’.

Coca-Cola is launching its first energy drink under the Coca-Cola brand as it looks to target young adults and branch out into different occasions.

Coca-Cola Energy has two variants – with and without sugar – and will launch in the UK from late April alongside an integrated marketing campaign.

Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland, says: “Our strategy is to offer people a wide range of drinks to meet different lifestyles and occasions and Coca-Cola Energy is the latest example of that.

“We’re launching Coca-Cola Energy with and without sugar and we’ll continue to expand and diversify our range of products to offer British consumers a wider choice of drinks.”

The new drink, which is a combination of caffeine, guarana extracts and B vitamins, is aimed at 18- to 35-year-olds. It will put the brand in direct competition with market leaders Red Bull and Lucozade, as well as Monster (which Coca-Cola part owns and is the company’s biggest shareholder)

Coke’s global chief marketing officer of sparkling business, Javier Meza, says in a company blog post  that the new drink “is in line with our work to diversify our legacy brands”, pointing to the recent launch of products such as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee and the relaunch of Diet Coke in four new flavours.

He adds: “We are always looking for ways to expand our products and bring people the drinks they want. And, energy is one of the fastest-growing categories in our industry.

“Coca-Cola Energy was developed by listening to what people told us they want from a Coca-Cola Energy drink. It has a great Coca-Cola taste that people know and love, along with caffeine from naturally-derived sources. Coca-Cola Energy gives people an option to have an energy drink that fits their specific lifestyles and preferences.”

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Coca-Cola Energy will come in 250ml cans, with packaging having its own visual identity while making it clear it is part of the Coca-Cola brand. It will contain almost four times as much caffeine as ordinary Coca-Cola – 80mg per 250ml as compared to 24mg for Coke.

Energy drink category

Launching into new categories is part of Coca-Cola’s efforts to establish itself as a ‘total beverage’ company, with CEO James Quincey having been vocal about the need for the company to branch into more occasions beyond its core fizzy drinks.

The energy drink market is a growing sector with consumers often willing to pay more compared to soft drinks.

Coca-Cola Energy

According to a report by the British Soft Drinks Association, carbonated drinks saw volume sales fall 0.2% in 2016 to 5.2 billion litres, while value sales were down 0.4% year on year to £5.8bn. The energy drinks market, by comparison, saw volume sales rise 2% to 679 million litres, up 2% year on year and giving it 5% of the soft drinks market, up from 3.8% in 2011.

However, the launch of Coca-Cola Energy has not been plain sailing. It has caused a dispute between the firm and Monster, with the companies currently in an arbitration process over next steps.

Monster argues that the new product goes against the original deal, which saw Coca-Cola take a 16.7% stake in Monster in 2015. According to Monster, the two agreed that all energy drinks would be released under the Monster brand while all non-energy drinks would be released under the Coke brand. Coca-Cola, however, says it has a different interpretation of the deal.

Despite the dispute both have assured investors that the disagreement is civil.