Monster Reveals ‘Performance’ Energy, Tea Innovations

Monster Energy is poised to take on rising rival Bang in the emerging “performance energy” category, one of several new product innovations for 2019 showcased yesterday during an investor meeting and business update.

Described on its label as “total body fuel,” the new product, Reign, represents Monster’s foray into the high caffeine, fitness-oriented subset of “performance energy” drinks in which VPX Pharmaceuticals’ Bang line has enjoyed much recent success. In revealing the new line, which will launch in 16 oz. cans in March, Monster CEO Rodney Sacks and vice chairman Hilton Schlosberg said Reign will have a dedicated team of senior managers focused exclusively on the brand and that it would receive its “own marketing and positioning” relative to Monster’s other portfolio products.

“We believe that reign will bring incremental dollars to the energy category through fulfilling multiple use states and use occasions,” he said.

Comparing Reign to Bang, Sacks noted that Monster’s product would have the same amount of caffeine (300 mg), but five times the amount of branch amino acids (BCAAs) and CoQ10 as its main competitor. The company’s top 200 accounts have committed to picking up the zero sugar, zero calorie line, which will be available in flavors like Peach Fizz, Carnival Candy, Sour Apple and Razzle Berry. Leaning into its pre and post-workout use occasions, the brand will seek to build its identity around fitness and bodybuilding using the tagline “Rule the Day.” The suggested retail price is $2.79.

The launch of Reign is set to put Monster and VPX in direct competition within the performance energy set, which also includes brands like Celsius and C4. Monster is currently suing VPX over health claims, having previously done so in 2008.

In her takeaways from the meeting, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog noted that Monster’s entry into the performance energy category may be “too little, too late” to establish a leading position. Echoing skeptical feedback from her retail contacts, she said Reign is unlikely to blunt Bang’s considerable momentum within the fitness subset. According to sales data from Nielsen, dollar sales of Bang are up 784.2 percent to $273 million over a 52-week period ended on Dec. 29.

Along with moving into fitness, Monster is also set to expand its presence in coffee and tea this year. Sacks said the company will be developing a new sub-family of tea products to play alongside the existing Rehab line, starting with Monster Dragon Tea, a three-SKU line of energy teas available in Green Tea, White Tea and Yerba Mate varieties. Meanwhile, after performing well during a limited run at Dollar General stores, Swiss Chocolate will premiere as the newest flavor for Java Monster in late February. Further innovations include Paradise, the newest entry in Monster’s zero sugar Ultra line that will debut in February, while the second half of 2019 will see a new Espresso Monster flavor (Caramel) and the launch of Monster Mule Ginger Brew.

Sacks and Schlosberg also addressed Monster’s ongoing arbitration with partner Coca-Cola North America (CCNA) to settle its dispute with the soda giant over the planned launch of Coca-Cola Energy this year. Sacks said the disagreement between the two is limited to the interpretation of an exception to a non-compete clause included in their 2015 agreement. CCNA is Monster Beverage Corp’s largest shareholder.

Sacks said Monster’s relationship with Coke remains “strong” and “positive” even as the case is currently being reviewed by an arbitration panel comprised of three retired judges. He said the company will abide by the judges’ interpretation of the clause and that two parties will continue to work together regardless of the outcome.

“We don’t believe this will affect our relationship,” he said. “If Coke wins, we will handle it.”

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated Reign contains ten times the amount of branch amino acids (BCAAs) and CoQ10 as Bang. The article has been corrected.