The Wall Street Journal reported that baby boomers are now the target for energy shots like 5-hr Energy (link here). At first look it sounds like a bad idea, targeting seniors and baby boomers with energy shots since there is so much negative connotations with energy drinks for the general public, and now it is targeting seniors which may be more susceptible to the health concerns of energy shots. Yet the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has allowed for 5-hr Energy to advertise their product in the AARP bulletins and hand out samples at their events. In short, 5-hr Energy and other energy shots are supported in the AARP’s marketing position toward seniors.
Should seniors really be positioned as a market for energy shots? And now that their parents or even grandparents are drinking energy shots, how will this affect the product’s reach toward their core demographics?
As much as this may seem like a shocker, this appears to be a good marketing ploy for Living Essentials (the makers of 5-hr Energy) to position toward seniors. The category may have peaked, but it is still gaining sales at a decreasing rate compared to the previous year. With the variety of energy shots that need to be delisted to make space other products, there always seems to be an unexplored market that finds energy shots intriguing. And advertising the product as a sort of dietary supplement toward seniors hits the sweet spot. Since everyone is healthier and living a more fragmented lifestyle nowadays, why deny baby boomers their entitlement as long as they have the energy to do so? If a boomer needs an extra kick to golf 18 holes and choose to consume something other than coffee, why not 5-hr Energy? The AARP’s research concluded that there are no specific harmful effects of the beverage, and has thus allowed 5-hr Energy to promote the product as their events. And positioning to boomers helps the product gain distribution to other areas where they would not traditionally be found, like shelving the product with wrinkle cream and nutrition shakes.
As for the second question of whether the product would lose popularity among the core audience (young adults), I believe 5-hr Energy would be safe. While the product is essentially identical, the reason behind the usage varies slightly. The communication message is different for each audience, and the product is found is different places as well. For seniors, the product is marketed as a dietary supplement, and would likely be foundin drug stores or grocery supermarkets near medicine or coffee powder. For young adults, the product is positioned as a caffeinated energy boost and found in the beverage aisle as well as near the cash registers. The product should ultimately be ubiquitous with consumers both young and old without much concern for it being your grandparents’ choice of product. After all, if grandparents ate asparagus and drank tomato soup, would young adults not eat asparagus or drink tomato soup? Doubt it.
Good for Living Essentials to notice this trend and stimulate sales growth for their product. For a category that seems to have peaked and matured after its initial climb to popularity, 5-hr Energy has provided it with a second life. The next question then becomes which energy drink competitors (ie. Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, etc) will try to carry over and gain the shelf space along with 5-hr Energy to target the seniors.