Trends take a turn in 2020

Take-home packs and big cans both performing well as country continues to adapt to Covid-19

energy drinks
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up shopper behaviour in the energy category.

LIKE most categories in convenience, functional and energy has seen some trends flipped on their head in 2020 – but has it hurt performance at the till point?

No would seem to be the answer, according to some of the category’s biggest brands, as sales continue to sky-rocket in c-stores.

• Figures provided by Red Bull UK paint a picture of a billion pound category that’s only getting bigger, as a spokesperson for the brand explained.

“Today sports and energy is worth £1.4bn, with growth totalling over £22.6m vs. 2019.
“This growth has been fuelled by the increasing demand for functional energy. These drinks have added over £130m vs. 2019 and are fast approaching a billion-pound segment, today worth £900m annually.

“The consistent performance of functional in the category has ensured that sports and energy has remained in growth despite slower performance in other segments and functional energy is the fastest growing segment in soft drinks at +3.5%.

“The growth of Red Bull over the past year has been driven by an increase in frequency, reaching one in 10 shoppers in the UK, with volume-per-buyer (packs) up 27.7% to 24.4 per year.”

Never ones to miss out on an opportunity, the team at Red Bull expanded its offer to UK consumers this summer with the launch of a new fruit flavour.

With consumption taking place almost entirely in the home in recent months, demand has increased for take-home multipack cans of energy.

Red Bull added to its Editions series with the launch of Red Bull Summer Edition – a watermelon flavoured energy drink.

The Red Bull spokesperson said: “Delivering a refreshing take on the taste of the classic Red Bull Energy Drink, Red Bull Summer Edition offers wings for those looking to make the most of the summer months, with an initial bright profile which then blooms into a refreshing watermelon finish.

“With the average soft drink buyer purchasing more than five flavour variants across the last 12 months, and 41% of energy drink users saying they would try an exotic/tropical fruit flavour, Red Bull Summer Edition is a must-stock for retailers.”

• At Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the firm behind Monster and Coca-Cola Energy, the pandemic’s influence on consumer behaviour has not gone unnoticed.

According Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at CCEP, the lifestyle changes adopted across British society in 2020 have affected the performance of take-home packs.

“With consumption taking place almost entirely in the home in recent months, demand has increased for take-home multipack cans of energy drinks.

“Our Monster Green and Monster Ultra White take-home four-packs are helping to cater to this demand, and during the core lockdown period grew by 65.5% and 45.7% respectively.
“In addition to this our broader range of four-pack cans, which include Monster Juiced and Monster Ultra variants, are also performing well, offering shoppers choice and diversity of refreshing flavours in comparison to other players in the market,” she said.

Social distancing measures may have given take-home packs a performance boost, but as restrictions ease, Burgess suggested retailers reassess their on-the-go SKUs to ensure they “offer what shoppers really want.”

The energy category has always been driven by people’s needs and there are currently big sections of society that are busier than ever before.

“This means focussing on core lines in best-selling sectors, which includes energy, where Monster is delivering the most value growth for the convenience channel.

“We also know that shoppers are planning to focus more on saving money in the next 12 months, which is understandable considering 75% of households report that their income has reduced since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

“With this in mind, and to reassure consumers that they can get the products they want, at an affordable price, PMPs can be a great way for convenience retailers to create a point of difference,” she said.

• Lockdown has undoubtedly led to fewer consumers making their usual morning commute – but not everyone has been stuck at home in 2020.

For some, this year will have been their busiest year ever and Adrian Troy, marketing director at AG Barr – the firm behind Rockstar and Irn-Bru Energy – highlighted how on-the-go energy continues to be an important category for these consumers.

“The energy category has always been driven by people’s needs and there are currently big sections of society that are busier than ever before.

“We may have lost the busy morning commute, which has always been a hotspot for energy consumption, but it’s been replaced by the pressure of lockdown, juggling childcare and the need to catch up on work late into the evenings which creates the need to feel alert and awake throughout the day,” he said.

covid-19 testing
AG Barr has suggested that some consumers need a little lift now more than ever.

One format that seems to be proving popular with those busy consumers is the ‘big can’ format, as Troy explained.

“Big can energy is bucking the trend during lockdown growing at 5% vs. a decline of -14.4% for Total Drink Now so it’s critical that retailers provide a wide range of formats and flavours,” adds Troy.

“With over one million heavy drinkers of big can energy in the UK, consuming it two to three times per week, the category has to be exciting and varied to keep these shoppers engaged.

“These consumers are increasingly opting for flavoured variants when choosing an energy drink, with flavoured energy now accounting for 34% of the mainstream energy market and growing faster than original energy,” he said.