Ah, the energy drink category. Despite federal lawmakers lurking at every turn and negative press hounding the top brands, bold predictions about the decline and demise of energy drinks have turned out to be little more than weak speculation. The beverage segment has continued to thrive as robust 2013 sales posted by giants like Monster and Red Bull proved that U.S. consumers still love their caffeine rush.
Nevertheless, swirling winds about potential health risks associated with energy drinks resulted in many consumers seeking out products with “cleaner caffeine,” often in the form of natural and organic options. This year’s Natural Products Expo West show saw the debut of several new energy brands, while organic energy stalwarts like Hiball and Scheckter’s expanded their offerings and introduced new distribution in both natural and mainstream channels. And as natural energy continues to gain traction in the U.S., another leading player — albeit one from across the Atlantic — is set to leap into the fray.
Little Miracles, a line of tea-based, organic energy drinks that are distributed in 21 European countries, is aiming to make its U.S. launch next month, beginning in the Southern California market. While the brand recently moved its headquarters to London, Little Miracles is formulated and has its roots in Denmark where company founders Frederick and Jørn Senger launched their first energy products, PowerShot Energy Boosting Shots, in 2005. Four years later, the pair introduced PowerShot Organic Energy Drinks, which was distributed to several other countries in Europe. In an effort to enhance the products’ appeal to young, professional women, the brand underwent a revamp in March 2011 and became Little Miracles.
Marketed as “meaningful drinks to do you good,” Little Miracles is formulated with tea, fruit juice, Panex Ginseng and acai and comes in three varieties: Green Tea & Pomegranate, White Tea & Cherry and Black Tea & Peach. The products are USDA Certified Organic, and in a departure from typical energy drink packaging, the beverages use resealable 330 mL plastic bottles. The drinks are sweetened with agave and contain 90 calories per bottle, each with a suggested retail price of $1.99.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of the brand’s tilt toward female consumers is its full wrap labels, which feature a decidedly feminine look, using light colors and fonts as well as an image of a flowering plant on the front of the bottle. Kate Woolf, Little Miracles’ International Marketing Manager, said that the brand’s primary consumers in Europe are busy, on-the-go women, aged 18-35, and that the company will attempt to reach the same demographic in the U.S.
“We want to carve out that market for us, because no one else is doing it,” Woolf said. “We really want to stay true to our roots and stay consistent with our marketing in Europe.”
And it’s no wonder why the company wants to keep on keepin’ on: Little Miracles took in € 8 million (approximately $11 million) in 2013 sales, according to Woolf, who is working with Little Miracles CEO Livio Blisterzo and U.S. CEO John Carroll to spearhead the American effort. Both Woolf and Carroll joined the company in September, each coming from large CSD companies: Woolf had been a marketing specialist with PepsiCo and Carroll was most recently employed by The Coca-Cola Co. as the company’s West Region Vending & Wholesale Operations Director.
Little Miracles is well-represented in Europe, and particularly the U.K., where a number of retailers, including Sainsburys, Carrefour, 7-Eleven, Delhaize and Harrods, carry the energy drinks. While the company has yet to secure retail placement in the U.S., Woolf said that Little Miracles is currently in talks with several American distributors, and at the recently held BevNET Live Winter ’13 conference, gained substantial interest from Kroger and 7-Eleven executives.