The latest player in the energy drinks market will be hoping that less is more in a category which has seen a trend towards upsizing.
The entrance of Quick Energy (MW last week), a 59ml shot of non-carbonated energy drink, comes in the wake of high-profile launches within the 500ml category, led by AG Barr’s Rockstar and Coca-Cola’s Relentless and Monster.
Quick Energy, created by US company Viva Beverages, is the first to bring a shot energy brand to the UK market. Its early success in the US, with over 25 brands, suggests there is a new and untapped opportunity waiting to be capitalised on.
According to AC Nielsen, the US energy shot market was worth more than 12m per month by August last year in convenience stores alone, up from about 3m a year earlier.
Building the roster
To spearhead its growth in the UK, Viva Beverages has brought onboard Trading Partners International to handle its sale in the UK, with Spirit Advertising appointed to handle advertising and MPG thought to be taking on the media account. It will spend upwards of 2m in marketing activity this year, including an extensive sampling programme and television advertising targeted at males aged 18 to 35. It is also considering a launch in Europe.
Mark Wickens, Brandhouse chairman and creative partner, says the brand will need to establish a strong positioning from the outset. “Product delivery is critical – is this the Yakult of energy drinks? It could be seen as an expensive way to get an energy hit and not an enjoyable experience as it is a ’short’ drink shot.”
Brad Berman, Viva UK managing director says that the drink can stand out in an already cluttered energy drinks market, as a “small but powerful energy offering”. Spirit Advertising managing partner Richard Hammond adds that it will capitalise on the no sugar, no herbal stimulant offering of the brand. Its healthy positioning, with a blend of B-vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants, will also see it widening its marketing focus to eventually target the female market.
Drink on the go
Gary Roethenbaugh, Zenith International market intelligence director, says it will appeal to consumers who find supersized energy drinks lead to bloating, and is therefore likely to be consumed when playing sports, for example.
“Energy shots can have a juice or berry base. They can be carbonated, non-carbonated or dairy. So there are many different aspects that make energy shots an exciting new opportunity,” he says.
The market leader in the energy markets, Red Bull, appears to think so as well, with plans to launch its own energy shot drink in the US. It is yet to confirm a launch date and if or when it is likely to roll out into the UK, but the drinks company says it will aim to fill the void as a premium brand in the fast-growing segment. It will join existing energy players such as Rockstar and Monster, which have already launched shot variants in the US.
Harry Drnec, founder of carbonated juice brand Suso, and former Red Bull marketing director, says the success of the new sub-category in the US suggests that there is room for further growth. But he remains reserved over whether it will catch on in the UK.
He says/ “People are ingraining themselves with brands rather than gimmicks. But nobody has ever bought an energy drink for the taste, so maybe in this case, less is more.”