Rockstar gels with PepsiCo, adds products

Rockstar Energy has found a home with PepsiCo, Inc. and plans to spend the bulk of 2010 pushing four new products, including two that could expand the brand’s reach, and one that returns Rockstar to old ground.

The company will soon begin the national roll out of Rockstar Roasted Espresso, said executive vice president of marketing Jason May, and this week began distribution of Rockstar Energy Gum (the company’s first non-beverage product), Rockstar Energy Cola and Rockstar Recovery.

Rockstar Recovery, a 10-calorie per-serving energy and electrolyte drink, will target active consumers who frequent the energy door, May said. Aimed at post-exercise consumption, May said the drink boasts a lemonade flavor sweetened with sucrose and sucralose.

Meanwhile, Rockstar Energy Cola returns the company to territory it had staked before its partnership with Coca-Cola Enterprises in 2005. May said the new product will resemble the old, with minor changes. The new version boasts more carbonation that its predecessor, May said, along with sucrose instead of HFCS and a flavor profile rebalanced to meet its new carbonation level.

“I think we’ve got a better overall product because of it,” May said.

Rockstar Roasted Espresso, he said, is a high-energy, 8 oz. coffee hybrid brewed with real espresso.

All three beverage products suggest that PepsiCo is willing to work with fine lines of differentiation within its portfolio. Roasted Espresso hews conceptually close to Starbucks’ Doubleshot. Recovery, while different from Gatorade due to its caffeine content, is still a sports drink that could – tangentially – compete with the banner brand. PepsiCo also welcomed Rockstar’s Energy Cola, a variety that May said the company dropped as part of its Coca-Cola distribution agreement. The entry will give PepsiCo colas at three caffeine levels. Pepsi and its many diet and flavor variations contain about 25 mg of caffeine per serving. Pepsi max contains about 46, and Rockstar Energy Cola contains about 80 mg per serving.

May said Rockstar and PepsiCo believe their product lines to be complimentary. Both companies, he said, are optimistic about the partnership after a challenging mid-year switch that developed in response to The Coca-Cola Co.’s decision to distribute Monster Energy through its bottlers.

May said he had nothing bad to say about The Coca-Cola Co., but said he and Rockstar are “enthusiastic about our alignment with Pepsi.”

“We’ve really found a home in Pepsi,” he said.