BevNET TV: NACS 2012 – An Interview with Manoj Bhargava of 5 Hour Energy

“To some extent, we’ve become like WD-40.” – Manoj Bhargava, founder and CEO of Living Essentials, the marketer of 5 Hour Energy.

Maybe it’s not the most elegant of comparisons, but when considering the utter domination that each product shares over its competitors, the analogy is crystal clear. In the same way that there is no “category” for WD-40, Bhargava considers energy shots to be a one-horse stable.

“I don’t really consider this… a shot category,” said Bhargava, speaking at the 2012 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show. “Usually to be a category, there have to be at least two relatively major players…. In this shot area, we have about 92, 93 percent [of all sales], and the next guy has 1 1/2 percent, so it’s really not a category so much as a brand.”

And with nearly $1 billion in sales annually, it’s a brand that can afford to flex its marketing muscle. At its sprawling NACS show booth packed with an army of staffers, 5 Hour showcased its range of energy shot supplements, including a new pink lemonade flavor, a product created in partnership with the Avon Foundation for Women. Living Essentials has committed a donation of $ .05 per bottle sold of Pink Lemonade 5-Hour Energy to the Avon’s Women Breast Cancer Crusade through December 31, 2012, and Bhargava stated that the company has raised over $250,000 for the charity as of last week.

Bhargava explained that while the pink lemonade flavor was initially intended to be a limited edition release, sales and enthusiasm for the product have earned it a spot on the permanent roster of 5 Hour shots. And as 5 Hour is in the midst of attempting to broaden its consumer base and appeal to a range of demographics, Bhargava noted, while the product may appeal to women in particular, the actual taste of the product is its most important aspect.

“They may buy it because of [breast cancer awareness], or they may buy it because it’s pink,” Bhargava said. “In the end, the product really goes by flavor. It turned out to be a really good flavor, and that’s what’s really going to get repeat business.”

In this video interview, BevNET CEO John Craven sits down with Bhargava to discuss more about the 5 Hour brand and its new pink lemonade flavor. Bhargava also offers his take on why energy shot entrepreneurs should focus on innovation — rather than emulation and celebrity endorsement — to achieve success.