The infographics below are derived from data contained in
BMC's DrinkTell™ Database with Market Forecasts


In this edition of DrinkTelligence, Beverage Marketing Corporation shares data contained in its DrinkTell™ database including volume sales performance data, consumer brand equity relationship data and the results of a survey of college students to explain recent trends in the energy drink sector.

The energy drink category has slowed in recent years, according to BMC's DrinkTell™ database. While seemingly a negative turn of events, the rapid growth of the energy drink segment in the U.S. since its inception in 1997 has made such a slowdown inevitable. That being said, the category has growth rates that other beverage segments such as carbonated soft drinks and fruit beverages would envy: to wit, energy drink volume has grown by at least 4.8% in each of the past five years. The two biggest brands of energy drinks — Monster and Red Bull — have diverged somewhat from the overall market but have trended upwards in the past five years as well.

So far in 2017, Beverage Marketing data contained in DrinkTell™ indicates energy drink volume has slowed considerably. This perhaps was presaged by the vastly differing performances of Monster and Red Bull in 2016. That year, Monster grew volume by 12.1% while Red Bull advanced by only 2.3%. While brand data is not yet available for 2017, the energy drink segment as a whole has grown by approximately that same 2.3% rate for the first half of 2017, with the 1st quarter showing stronger growth than the 2nd. A look at consumers' assessment of key brands in the category supports and adds perspective to this slowdown.

According to consumer brand equity relationship assessment data provided by BERA, BMC's partner and a contributor to the DrinkTell™ database, consumers are bored with the energy drink category. Despite negative momentum for the category (which implies much more must be done to acquire, maintain, and/or revitalize category drinkers), we see Monster closing the gap with Red Bull during H1'17 while Red Bull largely remains in place. An initial read suggests that Millennial consumer perceptions of Monster have shifted upwards in H1’17 whereas most other brands have remained in the same position as last year.

Additional consumer-based feedback supporting the slowdown in the energy segment's growth, along with a caveat against over-simplifying or over-dramatizing the tempering of the segment's meteoric rise can be found in Beverage Marketing's analysis of results from a survey the firm conducted among college students in cooperation with its partner, Riddle & Bloom (known as Fluent at time survey was conducted). The BMC/Fluent survey found that
  • Fully 59% of college students surveyed do not plan to consume energy drinks in 2017, which is not surprising given that the segment has relied on big sales from a relatively small number of consumers for years.

  • A little more than one-quarter of students plan to maintain their energy drink consumption levels in 2017 versus 2016.

  • A continuing negative for energy drink marketers is that a mere 3.1% of students plan to drink more in 2017 while 12.6% expect to drink less. This is an even wider spread than seen in the 2016 version of this survey.

  • However, BMC noted that those who have hoped for the demise of energy drinks have long been disappointed and also noted that it is an open secret that much of energy drink consumption occurs among blue-collar workers such that a hypothetical loss of on-campus energy drink users would not be as dire as initially imagined. BMC also cautioned that an overrepresentation of women in the college survey makes the picture seem worse than it really is.

Barring innovation that reignites consumer excitement in the category, BMC's DrinkTell™ database forecasts continued moderate growth for the segment over the next few years as the category continues to mature.

For more on Energy Drink Trends by company, brand, region, diet vs. regular and more, see BMC's DrinkTell Database. DrinkTelligence readers who do not currently subscribe to the DrinkTell™ database are invited to request a free demo via a web based conference session. Contact Charlene Harvey at 212-688-7640 ext. 1962 or via email at to schedule your demo today.

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