Energy drinks have been around for almost over a century, but the current “concept” of energy drinks is relatively new. The second most famous soft-drink Pepsi, was originally introduced as an “energy-booster” drink. Before 1984, two major ingredients of Coca-Cola were also stimulants, making it an energy drink of sorts. It can be considered the first-wave or an early form of energy drink. What we now call energy drinks are mostly formulated around one stimulant, i.e., caffeine. Energy drinks are a massive market. It was sized at $53 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to about $86 billion. It’s a powerful growth pace, especially for a product that’s competing against the mighty soft-drink industry. If you want to enter this thriving industry, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on energy drink trends for 2021.
Major Energy Drink Trends
The energy market trends of 2021 might be quite different from the trends we saw in 2020 and might resemble the 2019 patterns more. 2020 was a difficult year for the whole world. It disrupted life, work-routine, and recreational trends around the globe. These things have a direct impact on what we consume and how we consume it. Hopefully, the pandemic and its life-altering side effects will not haunt 2021 as they did in 2020.
A “Coffee” Exodus
In 2020, beverage consumption in the US took many unexpected turns. The energy drink consumption dropped, and coffee in-take increased. It can be attributed to the fact that many people were cooped up in their homes, and they turned to a stimulating drink (coffee) that was more readily available and they could easily prepare at home. Also, energy drinks are mostly a retail item. Retail footfall dropped drastically during the pandemic, and energy drink consumption followed suit.
But the energy drink trend might see a shift in 2021. Things are expected to return to normal sometime in 2021, and people will likely slip back into their pre-pandemic routines. And they are likely to start consuming energy drinks at the same rate they did before the pandemic disrupted their routine.
Clean Energy Drinks Are On The Rise
People are becoming more health-conscious, and more and more people are now looking into “natural” alternatives to packaged foods and beverages. Energy drinks are no exception, and more and more people might look for low-calorie natural alternatives for the most common energy drinks. They haven’t been around for long and have hardly penetrated the energy drink market, but this trend is likely to shift.
Clean energy drinks like Runa have significantly lower calorie count and source their vitamins, flavors, and additives from natural sources. With the demand for organic food growing, 2021 might be a good time to launch a clean energy drink and market it as a healthy alternative, especially to students and working individuals who rely on these energy drinks to get them through their tough routine. This was the mindset behind New Zealand’s clean energy drink brand Phoric.
Energy Drinks vs. Sports Drinks
Energy drinks have been outpacing sports drinks in the US since 2017, and the trend is likely to continue in 2021 as well. Unlike sports drinks that are developed around stimulants, sports drinks primarily contain carbohydrates, minerals, and electrolytes (sometimes vitamins as well). But it seems that people crave more stimulation and a relatively more powerful energy-boost than what sports drinks can provide.
There is also the problem of different market segments. When it comes to fitness and athletic activities, people might favor sports drinks over energy drinks. And if more people start hitting the gym or take up sports, especially after being cooped up in their homes for the most part in 2020, sports drinks sales might see a high rise.
Consumption By Geographic Regions
North Americans were and still are the most avid energy-drink consumers, but it’s still far from saturation. With natural and Cannabis alternatives entering the market, a new energy drink brand can leverage several untapped segments of the North American market. Energy drinks are also gaining popularity in Asia and Europe. In Asia, Japan has its own brand of energy drinks since the 1960s, and China will probably be a difficult market for a foreigner to enter. The southeast Asian market will probably lean more towards Japanese or Chinese products. And the other largest segment of the Asian market, India, is possibly already dominated by Red Bull.
A Consolidated Market
There are three major players in the energy drink market in North America (as well as globally): Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar. The big-three dominate the market and are almost household names when it comes to energy drinks. This has been the prevalent energy drink trend, which is unlikely to change in 2021 or even in the next few years. For new businesses, it might be challenging to present a product that’s different from these yet caters to the energy drink consumers.
A study conducted in Japan and Taiwan unveiled an unusual market trend. Taiwanese energy drink consumers associate red color with energy drinks, while for the Japanese, it’s blue. Monster energy drink consumers might associate the characteristic green color with energy drinks. The importance of color when marketing an energy drink is a trend that aspiring entrepreneurs should be aware of. They might want to “piggy-back” on existing associations or take on a unique approach.
Cannabis Energy Drinks
This is a relatively fresh energy drink trend. Cannabis-infused energy drinks are still a rarity, but they are likely to gain traction as the cannabis-infused beverage industry grows. This industry has a lot of potential, and it’s quite far from its saturation point, especially in the US, where only 15 states have legalized recreational Cannabis and its derivative products like Cannabis energy drinks.
Harness The Power Of “Drink Experts”
If you are planning to enter the energy drink market with a revolutionary new drink and planning to take on the giants, it’s better to do so with the help of market experts. Whether you are developing a niche product/brand or going for something more mainstream, you’d need a powerful product to base your business on. And who better to trust with your product development than professionals having specialized experience with beverage formulation.