Energy Drinks: All Grown Up

THE ENERGY DRINK CATEGORY IS NO LONGER “maturing.” More than ten years in, with annual growth, from emerging metrics, down to a stately 4 percent, and three brands swallowing up 2/3 to 3/4 of the market, it’s fair, now, to call the once young and explosive category “mature.”

Red Bull (see Red Bull Back in the Herd, but Ready to Bust Out, pg. 40), the top seller by dollar-value, still maintains its network of independent distributors, but other big sellers have sorted themselves into Coke and Pepsi camps. Monster, the top seller by volume, currently pushes its product through the Coca-Cola and Budweiser systems; number-three player Rockstar gets its product to stores on the same trucks as Pepsi and Mountain Dew. Even in the quadrant of the energy drink market not owned by those three brands, the biggest players claim some affiliation with the big houses. Amp, Pepsi’s in-house invention, tops the also-rans followed by Coke-baby Full Throttle, Pepsi-ally Starbucks’ Doubleshot, and NOS, a subsidiary of FUZE, itself a subsidiary of Coca-Cola.

For independent brands, that means the already-difficult task of building a successful business in the energy drink segment has gotten harder. Not only do they have to formulate an innovative product, build a brand identity, and scavenge customers, they have to do so while in direct competition with the world’s two most powerful beverage distribution networks.

Under those conditions, the number of private brands has fallen. BevNET’s 2008 energy drink guide listed 228 energy brands. The 2009 guide lists about half that number, a reflection of the growing number of entrepreneurs that have discovered that the energy drink gold rush is over.

But even in that environment, there are still some strong independent players. Jolt and Go Girl, in particular, posted high enough sales to make it on IRI’s leader board, and brands like BAWLS and Redline have carved out enduring or growing niches for themselves.

Though those brands continue to find room to live and expand around the edges, the age of the entrepreneur as king of the energy category may be over. Still, there’s opportunity for retailers to sell smart, well-run independent brands that have the potential to keep growing. Their ongoing ability to survive proves that they’ve hooked an enduring segment of the populace, and those customers may follow the product into your store.CRUNK!!! Energy Drink: Crunk!!! has significantly grown it’s footprint over the past year by setting up distribution agreements in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Upstate New York. Crunk!!! is also available in select quality retailers like: 7-Eleven, AM/PM, MAPCO, QuickTrip, Kum & Go, Flash Foods, Pilot, Sam’s Mart, Daily’s, Quick Stuff, Quick Stop, K-MART, and many others. For more information on CRUNK!!! Energy Drink please visit: http://www.crunkenergydrink.com/

Arrow Productions. Adult novelty distributor East Coast News signed a deal with Arrow Productions to provide exclusive distribution of the company’s Deep Throat Energy Drink to adult stores. Arrow has a promotion program offers retailers that buy 50 cases a free Deep Throat Energy Drink fridge that the retailer is not required to return.

XO Energy Beverage Corp. XO’s 6 oz. energy drinks are now made in the U.S.A., Kosher “OU” and have a 24-month shelf life.

Zafi Beverages, Inc. Zafi Beverages, Inc. has re-positioned its Zafi Ultralight and Zafi Pumped Premium Energy Drinks into the energy mixer market with a new marketing slogan that reads: Zafi, ‘The Perfect Energy Mixer.’

DD Beverage Co. DD Beverage Co. secured a partnership with 7-Eleven Pacific Northwest Group to sell Beaver Buzz and Beaver Natural Soda in these US 7-Eleven stores as of June 22, 2009.

Police Fuel. Police Fuel announced that it will donate a portion of its proceeds to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in support of efforts to create the first ever National Law Enforcement Museum.

rhino’s energy GmbH. rhino’s announced an agreement with 7-Eleven for distribution in all East Coast states aside from New York and Florida.

Bigg Juice Industries inc. Bigg Juice Industries Ltd launched RELOAD in March with a master distributor based in Vermont.

LIVE Energy, Inc. Starting April 2009, LIVE NATURAL ENERGY DRINK is now sold at HEB Texas through Kehe Distribution.

Fluid Motion Beverage Inc. Vixen Energy, going into its 4th year, has expanded its distribution into Western Canada.

Fluid Motion Beverage Inc. Talon Energy launched its “Get your Motto on a Talon Can” consumer program, allowing Talon drinkers to submit their personal motto for possible inclusion on Talon cans. Talon’s first motto was “Stay Sharp!”

DNA Beverage Corporation. DNA ENERGY DRINK recently formed a subsidiary distribution company known as Grass Roots Beverage to distribute DNA throughout Florida. The brand will be available in the Mid-West by mid-summer.

Sex Drive Energy Drink. Sex Drive signed distribution agreements with 7-Eleven and HT Hackney in February. The brand also added new distribution in Atlanta, and expanded DSD operations in South Carolina in April. The brand also ran a promotional event at the Kentucky Derby.

XL Energy Drink Corp. XL Energy Drink has redesigned its Sugar Free can. XL’s original flavor is now available in six-packs of 8.4 oz. cans.

The CL-ONE Corp. CL-ONE will launch a Quad-Pack this summer, backed by a “Get one free promo” allowing consumers to pick up four-pack for the price three cans.

Power Trip Beverages. Power Trip recently signed on as a sponsor of the hip-hop/pop band City of God. PTB also became a sponsor of the Excalibur Cricket Club of Northern New Jersey, and can be seen in several films this summer, including the new Van Wilder film, and the new Fox Television series “GLEE.”

Anthracyte, LLC. Anthracyte, LLC announced a Fruit Punch version of its Ephedra Energy Tea. The New Fruit Punch Ephedra Tea is genuine Ephedra and Green Tea.

Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co. Go Fast Sports and Beverage Company released the two new flavors, GFTea and Z17, and a 16 oz. can size in the 4th quarter of 2008. GFTea is an energy drink flavored with black, white and green teas and tea catechins. Z17 carries an extra kick!

Fuzzee Bee Beverage Co. ZUN BRAIN BOOSTING ENERGY is out of R&D and has launched in the Boulder Colorado region. ZUN ROCK-IT-WOMAN! the new functional beverage for women is also planned for an estimated release sometime before the end of 2009.

Hunid Racks LLC. Within the last year, Hunid Racks has hit Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, Kansas City, Nebraska, Denver, and Portland. The brand has also started sales in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware and Hawaii.

Rubyy Energy Drink. Rubyy is introducing Diet Rubyy this summer. The new product, packaged in matte white, re-sealable, aluminum bottles, is slated to hit shelves mid-June in Bevmo! and Famima stores.

1in3Trinity. In the past year, 1in3Trinity has signed endorsement deals with five-time NFL Pro Bowler Guy McIntyre, Saints player Olaniyi Sobomehin, NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd and Grammy-nominated Christian rock band SONICFLOOd. 1in3Trinity also signed a distribution agreement with Tree of Life.

RLED, LLC. Roaring Lion Energy Drink announced its new Sugarfree line. Roaring Lion Sugarfree is offered in 1 gallon boxes and 16 oz., re-sealable bottles.

Vecordia Group, Inc. Through Vecordia’s own distribution and an arrangement with R & R Vending, LLC, Blue Storm is now available at over 1,000 stores across the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Additionally, Vecordia came to a distribution arrangement with Hillway Services, LLC to cover the Gulf Coast Region of Texas. Vecordia is offering a “Buy 3 Get 1 FREE” case pack promotions to new distributors and stores throughout the summer.

Nor-Cal Beverage Co. Go Girl Energy Drinks introduced a new flavor in February – Go Girl Bliss. Go Girl Bliss is a non-carbonated peach tea that is sweetened with agave and brewed with yerba maté tea. It’s only 35 calories, and a portion of the proceeds is donated to benefit breast cancer research & awareness. Go Girl Energy Drinks also unveiled a newly redesigned www.gogirlenergy.com.

Johnny Fountain Beverage Innovators. Johnny Fountain Beverage Innovators entered into a distribution deal with High 5 distributors of New York City. Powerball Energized Juice is also in the midst of a marketing campaign using social networking sites and a sampling team that cruises the nightlife scene.

Impulse Energy USA. Impulse Energy introduced Impulse Extreme Energy Sugar Free in 16 oz. cans.

Xtreme Beverage Corp. Xtreme Beverage recently introduced Big Ol’ Trucker energy juice, and is promoting the brand with an iPhone game, Maze Craze Trucker.

NERD Beverage Corp. Dr. Pepper distributors recently agreed to distribute NERD in Brownwood, Temple, Tyler, and Mason Texas.

Game Juice Inc. Game Juice selected David Fonseca of FYI Studio to develop its cutting-edge label design and branding campaign. Game Juice is also announced that it will be donating a portion of its proceeds to Dream in Green – a non-profit foundation dedicated to empowering energy education and conservation.

GURU Beverage Co. GURU Beverage Co announced a product collaboration with Kanye West, to create a new product inspired by his own personal artistic vision. The new product is expected to launch later this year in the U.S. and Canada. The announcement coincided with the launch of a marketing campaign dubbed “Clean Energy for Dirty Minds.”

Marquis Platinum Inc. Marquis Platinum Vitality Drink signed with Innovative Trading Services Limited, UK, who will be the distributor of Marquis Platinum throughout Europe.

US Premium Brands. US Premium Brands recently announced Fuel High Octane Energy Supplement. Each 16 oz. can of Fuel High Octane Energy Supplement contains 240 mg of Caffeine and 200mg of L-Carnitine and is packed with B Vitamins.

Amplexo. Amplexo’s all natural energy drink Vá, recently added Vá Lite. The company has also prepaed a launch in Mexico and reached an agreement with Nuestro Pueblo Distributors to explore new distribution channels for Vá and Vá Lite in North and South America.

Wave Energy Drink, LLC. Wave Energy recently entered the market. The Wave lineup includes a Sugar Free version, and will be rolling out nationwide this year. Franchise distributor opportunities are currently available across the country. Visit tastethewave.com if you are interested in becoming a distributor or would like to learn more.

XYIENCE. XYIENCE recently launched Xtreme Xenergy, which packs more B12 vitamins and slightly more caffeine than the original, in a black 16 oz. can. Xtreme is sugar- and calorie –free, with minimal carbohydrates.

Wholesale Outlet. Wholesale Outlet Speed Zone pre-priced, 99 cent energy drink recently hired a new director of business development to spearhead Speed Zone marketing.

Rage Liquid Energy. Rage Liquid Energy is now available nationally at 7-Eleven Canada.

XS Energy. XS Energy recently launched a 12 oz. version of its flagship Cranberry-Grape flavor as well as injecting itself into the fast-growing 2 oz. energy shot category.

Hansen Natural Corp. Hansen has signed a contract with the Coca-Cola Company in October to distribute Monster Energy Drinks through the Coke distribution system.

PepsiCo. In the last year, PepsiCo’s Amp Energy added a Green Tea flavor, a Black Tea flavor, Lightning (a lemonade flavor), and Tradin’ Paint, a limited time orange, lime and berry flavor promoted with help from NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Red Bull GMBH. Following the debut of Red Bull Energy Shot, Red Bull introduced taller, slimmer 16 oz. cans that echo the proportions of the brand’s original 8.3 oz. can.

Rockstar. Rockstar in February ended its relationship with distributor Coca-Cola Enterprises in favor of signing a distribution agreement with PepsiCo. The agreement puts Rockstar in PepsiCo’s three largest distributors: Pepsi Bottling Group, PepsiAmericas and Pepsi Bottling Ventures.

Wet Planet Beverages. Jolt Energy Drink secured placement at AM/PM and Circle K locations following the July, 2008 introduction of its 16 oz., resealable cap-can.

AriZona Beverages. AriZona Beverages has been sampling its 16 oz. All City NRG as well as Caution Energy and Low-Carb Caution Energy (in both 8.3 and 16 oz. sizes). The products were present at the Hollywood Reporter Lounge during the Sundance Film Festival, Project Pintura International Graffiti Conference in Orlando, Fla., and Nice Collective & GenArt Time Machine-Men’s and Women’s Fall 2009 collection at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in New York during fashion week.

Hobarama, LLC. High-caffeine soda BAWLS Guarana has won new partnerships with several chains including Jewel-Osco, Fred Meyer and Wilson Farms. The new alliances spotlight the brand’s most popular flavors – BAWLS Guarana and BAWLS G33K B33R, named BevNET’s “Best Energy Drink” of 2008.