Xyience’s Lennon: “We Want to Be the Energy Drink of the Health Club”

John Lennon, President, XYIENCE

The brand made its name hawking supplements and energy drinks to a booming bloc of mixed martial arts fans and enthusiasts, and now Xyience is aiming to find similar grassroots growth from like-minded gym rats and fitness buffs.  In a recent interview with BevNET, Xyience president John Lennon said that amid new distribution and retail placement for the brand, the company is looking to further develop and enhance its reputation as an energy drink for athletes and plans to introduce a protein-infused line of drinks next year.

“We want to be known as the energy drink of the health club, not the night club,” Lennon said.

Lennon noted a growing trend of pre-workout energy drink consumption among runners and CrossFit athletes, and that gym owners have, in greater numbers, begun to carry energy drinks along with the usual roster of protein shakes and juices. To take advantage of that market,  Xyience is looking at the possibility of sponsoring CrossFit athletes in addition to its deep roster of endorsers from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

On the product development side, it’s still early for the upcoming Xyience’s Xenergy + Protein, which hasn’t yet been commercialized, Lennon said. He told BevNET that the company is still examining a variety of formulations for the line, including shakes, and hasn’t determined the exact level of protein that will be included in the beverages. Nevertheless, Lennon believes that the brand extension would likely be ready for release sometime in the second quarter of 2014.

The protein-infused drinks will follow the company’s Xenergy + Hydration, Xenergy + Tea and Xenergy + Lemonade products, which launched earlier this year. Asked about the impact of the beverages on Xyience’s portfolio, Lennon said it was still early going for new varieties, which had “really just gotten out of the blocks this summer.”

New products aside, Xyience is benefiting from increased distribution in Northwest and West Texas and recent deals with Canada Dry Delaware Valley Bottling Company, Canada Dry Potomac and Carolina Beverage Corp.-Cheerwine, giving the brand a far greater reach along the East Coast and Southeastern U.S.  The company also scored a major coup in March with a nationwide deal with Safeway. The agreement placed Xyience drinks in more than 1,400 Safeway stores, 900 of which are in Southern California.

Despite taking major strides in the availability of its energy drinks, increased competition among new zero-calorie and zero-sugar products from Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar has taken its toll. Lennon said that sales growth has slowed from 14 percent in 2012 to 6 to 8 percent in 2013. Nevertheless, he said that the company is aiming and positioning itself to crack the top five energy drink brands in terms of sales. Lennon said that Xyience currently sits in the number seven position, according to Nielsen data.

While a significant part of Xyience’s consumer base is female (Lennon said that the number is around 36 percent), the company is banking its sponsorship of Ronda Rousey, the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion to extend its pull with women. Rousey — who recently landed on the cover of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue — signed with the company in April and her image dons a limited-edition can of Xenergy Cherry Lime. The package was released leading up to her second UFC fight, scheduled to take place on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.

“She really has star quality,” Lennon said of Rousey. “She’s beautiful, an incredible athlete and incredibly articulate.”