5-hour Energy Improves Shot’s Taste

The 5-hour Energy line-up.  As stated in a press release, all their energy shots will undergo taste improvements this year. Image couresty of 5-hour Energy's twitter page.
The 5-hour Energy line-up. As stated in a press release, all their energy shots will undergo taste improvements this year. Image couresty of 5-hour Energy’s twitter page.

Taste exists as the primary and most crucial hurdle for consumables to overcome.  Even with marketing support, no product could sustain success if they produced really bad-testing drinks.  5-hour Energy kicks off 2015 by announcing that they’ve improved on the taste profiles for their entire line of energy shots (link here).

If 5-hour Energy has been able to find sustained success the past 10 years, their products could not have tasted that bad.  This is merely a product tweak, though an important change since it affects their total energy shot portfolio.  After improving flavor profiles, 5-hour Energy will be a better position to leverage their insights around demographics (targeting women & seniors) and frequencies (usage occasions and mixing opportunities).  That said, no one can equally focus on three different priorities.  So what should the energy shot provider do first: grow their customer base by targeting women & seniors, or increase consumption among their current customers?

Related post: 5-hour Energy’s Quest for New Growth

It seems like the answer was part of the statement by their director of communications, Melissa Skabich.  Here’s a partial statement from her:

“The message is clear. Our customers want an energy shot that tastes great, and we’ve given them what they’ve asked for,” said Melissa Skabich, director of communications for 5-hour Energy. “The new and improved taste of 5-hour Energy shots is a testament to our ongoing commitment to always improving our product, and we’re extremely proud of what we’ve created.  Fans of 5-hour Energy shots won’t be disappointed because we still offer the same 10 great flavors, as well as decaf,” Skabich added. “We’re optimistic that the better-tasting product will result in increased demand through the existing and new user base.”

Even as Skabich mentions existing user base, it would be clear that this is more about growing the new user base.  After all, there is only so many energy shots a single consumer can drink.  There is stronger growth potential for 5-hour Energy by targeting new demographics.  In fact, changing the taste is positioning them to reach new consumers more than satisfy brand loyalists.  Current customers will be rewarded with better tasting shots, but the priority is to attract new users.

Marketing to new users could prove more difficult than increasing consumption from their loyal customers, though the payoff will undoubtedly be more rewarding.  Following their Yummification campaign, 5-hour Energy already understands when people use their shots and what tastes delicious when mixed with it.  Leveraging these insights, they can target women & seniors through advertising or in-store coupons or bundled products.

5-hour Energy says they will be launching a new national advertising campaign in February to market the energy shots’ new and improved taste.  Be on the lookout for what would appeal to women and seniors, as it’s likely that the campaign may cater to them just as much as it caters to their current customer base.

5-hour Energy's Yummification contest from 2014.  Through this contest, the energy shot manufacturer was able to uncover new usage occasions and great refreshments to mix with the energy shot.
5-hour Energy’s Yummification contest from 2014. Through this contest, the energy shot manufacturer was able to uncover new usage occasions and great refreshments to mix with the energy shot.

5 Questions with Dollar Shots Club’s Darin Alpert

Dollar Shots Club - why pay more than $1 for a shot? Courtesy of facebook.com
Dollar Shots Club – why pay more than $1 for a shot? Courtesy of facebook.com

Most manufactured products are sold through retailers and typically include a mark-up.  This is necessary for the retailer to earn profits from carrying the product on their store shelves.  It also gives consumers a “one-stop shop” to find all products they need.  Online retailers and companies that sell directly to consumers cut out the retailer and thus can sell their wares at lower prices.  This is the case with Dollar Shots Club, an energy drink company that recently sprouted up that cuts out the retailer.  BevWire recently caught up with Darin Alpert, the Chief Marketing Officer of Dollar Shots Club.

BevWire (BW): First of all, what is Dollar Shots Club?  Are you guys product manufacturers, product distributors, or a combination?  How long have you guys been in business?

Darin Alpert (DA):  Dollar Shots Club is a monthly membership for great tasting, affordable energy shots.  We officially launched in September 2014. We are a combination of manufacturers and distributors. We don’t see a reason for consumers to pay for retail markup of their energy shots.

BW: How did you guys come up with the idea for Dollar Shots Club?  Did the success of “Dollar Shave Club” play into the decision and business model?

DA: Dollar Shave Club was a great motivator.  We saw that one company owns 90% market share of the energy shot market and charges $3 each for their shots.  The reason they are $3 each is because of all the layers of distribution.  We cut out those layers and know how much consumers enjoy products online over retail.

BW: Who is your target market, and how do you plan on communicating with them?  And what makes Dollar Shots Club’s energy shots unique from other energy shots on the market?

DA:  Our target market is people that drink energy shots or energy drinks and want to save money.  We communicate with them via social media. The biggest differentiation is price, taste and convenience. Ours cost less, taste better and are shipped right to your door without having to wait in line at the store.

BW: Seeing that cultivating a strong subscription base is critical, and finding new customers are equally important, what are some of your biggest challenges toward business growth?  What are some strategies Dollar Shots Club is using to overcome these challenges?  What consumer marketing campaigns can we expect to see in the future?

DA:  One of the biggest challenges we have is getting consumers to taste our shots since taste is so crucial. We offer our first month for free so people can try the shots. Once people try the shots they love them! As far as customer base, we are signing up 5-10 people per day and have been doing so since September. Our retention rate is currently above 80%.

The biggest strategy for increasing business exposure has been giving away the first month for free. We don’t want to build the infrastructure of going to events and taking on additional costs so our online advertising promotes the first month for free. We’ve also partnered with like minded partners that can help us get the word out. We’ve got a few things in the works that will increase our exposure 🙂 We can’t talk about them yet though.

BW: Seeing that the business model currently supports one flavor and one market (the 48 contiguous states of U.S.),  how would the expansion plans look like?

DA: We chose our one flavor (Berry) because it is the most popular energy shot flavor. We will expand flavors depending on demand from our membership. We’re here to serve our members needs. We don’t want to take on international expansion until we dominate the United States.

Certainly an interesting approach toward selling energy shots revealed in this interview with Darin.  While many people prefer instant gratification from product purchases, there are a growing number of consumers increasingly comfortable with stocking up and buying online.  Certainly looking forward to seeing Dollar Shots Club change up the energy shots segment.

5-hour Energy’s Quest for New Growth

The 5-Hour Energy Shot Line-up
The 5-Hour Energy Shot Line-up

It seems that the craze over energy shots have died down since 2012 and left 5-Hour Energy as the last company standing.  That shouldn’t be a surprise since existing consumers were fiercely loyal to the brand, to the extent that offerings from energy stalwarts like Red Bull and Monster failed to sustain sales in this segment.  After winning the battle for energy shot supremacy, 5-Hour Energy still faced challenges toward reaching a wider array of consumers.  The energy shot manufacturer need to reach other demographics to continue growing.  That spawned line extensions to reach women, as well as sampling events to reach seniors. This past summer, the company ran a “Yummification” campaign to leverage 5-Hour Energy as a mixer (BevNet’s Ray Latif has an in-depth look at the campaign here).  While all companies have growth barriers, what has 5-Hour Energy done differently to overcome these growth challenges?  And beyond its success, what other opportunities exist for them in the foreseeable future?

It would appear that targeting women and seniors are components of an overarching 5-Hour Energy growth plan, and the strategic objective is to increase consumption.  Reach new demographics isn’t all that different from what other companies do, so catering to women and seniors are not all that unique.  What is unconventional is their “Yummification” campaign.  5-Hour Energy recognized that taste was a blockage that would not be solved despite their efforts to highlight product benefits.  The “Yummification” campaign leveraged fans’ creativity in a contest to create recipes for mixing 5-Hour Energy with other beverages (mainly non-alcoholic ones) to lessen the medicinal taste.  As a side benefit, this contest required submissions through YouTube helped generate a lot of media exposure.  Beyond media impressions, the campaign showcase new usage occasions for 5-Hour Energy.  Contest submissions advertised concoctions to refresh the user during athletic training, waking up, and gaming among many others.  Athletic training, waking up, and gaming are occasions typically paired with other refreshments, such as sports drinks, coffee, and juice & water.  Energy drinks – let alone energy shots – seldom enter the conversation as refreshments during these times.  However, it looks like that will change following the success of their “Yummification” campaign.

5-Hour Energy's Yummmification Contest.  Courtesy of blog.5hourenergy.com.
5-Hour Energy’s Yummmification Contest. Courtesy of blog.5hourenergy.com.

Beyond the campaign’s success, it seems 5-Hour Energy has uncovered business opportunities that they were previously unaware of.  Serving as an ingredient as well as a standalone product gives them many more opportunities to sell itself.  Beyond the regular activities to feature the product as a strong standalone product, mixing the shot with other beverages now gives 5-Hour Energy many cross-promotion and marketing opportunities.  5-Hour Energy could try securing displays in the juice aisle to forge a stronger bond with the juices that could be mixed with their product.  Or secure displays in the coffee aisle to convert or steal coffee consumers.  Regardless of displays or other in-store activation tools, many opportunities have emerged to continue delivering growth momentum.

Judging by the potential that this campaign could provide to 5-hour Energy, it’s a surprise it took them so long to come up with it.  It may be the fact that the segment was riding a hot growth trend that nullified the need for marketing support.  Or that negative media surrounding energy drinks required more immediate attention than developing a sustained growth strategy.  Whatever the case, the campaign has now happened and translated fantastic success.  The one downside is that the campaign won’t be repeated, as said by Brandon Bohland, a special markets manager at the company.  Which means that the recipes submitted for the campaign are the only ones that will exist for the foreseeable future, until 5-Hour Energy creates other contests calling for recipe creations.

Visit 5hourenergy.com/yummification to see the videos and recipes for their Yummification contest.

Red Bull Launches New Product: BULL Energy Drink

Courtesy of BevNet.com - the new Red Bull
Courtesy of BevNet.com – the new Red Bull “Bull” Energy Drink.

Thanks to a tip-off from BevNet.com, we learned that Red Bull North America has quietly released a new limited edition orange-flavored energy drink (BevNet article here).  The new 8.4oz (250ml) energy drink is closely linked to soccer, predominantly available in sporting venues where soccer is the main attraction.  After launching beverage innovations in other areas, it appears that Red Bull has returned to exert their influence within energy drinks.  With failed experiments at penetrating soft drinks (with Red Bull Cola) and energy shots (with Red Bull Energy Shots), the renewed focus toward energy drinks is a welcome sign for the energy drink manufacturer.

However, why was this product launched without much publicity?  It took consumers to bring up this launch in order for BevNet to squeeze more information out of Red Bull.  Even a search through google has revealed no information nor any high quality images for this product as of yet.  Is this a new launch plan that Red Bull is trying out, where they offer different flavors in limited duration?  Is this even a good strategy given their strength and associations with “energy”?

Red Bull’s latest launch carries with it the discussion of “Push vs Pull Marketing”.  With consumers searching out more information on the BULL energy drink, Red Bull may have effectively created new consumer demand for this innovation – hence the manufacturer’s “pull” tactic.  Regardless of intent, they have transformed their brand loyalists into advocates for the new energy drink.  And instead of selling it into retailers and sacrificing shelf space for a new extension (the manufacturer’s “push” tactic), the consumer demand may help put this drink in the fridges and cooler vaults at the expense of Monster, Rockstar, or a host of other energy drink manufacturers.  Even if the target was for sporting venues exclusively.  If this is a new introduction strategy that Red Bull is trying, then it has been successful at generating buzz.

The question on whether this is a good strategy is a tougher one to answer.  Even with the product launch deemed a success, the question on how much more successful it would have been with marketing support remains.  Given that Red Bull and “energy drink” are synonymous like Kleenex and facial tissue, or Colgate and toothpaste, or Band-Aid and adhesive bandages, why do they not leverage on the strength of their brand name?  The equity of the Red Bull name carries with it easy access to retailer distribution and a profit premium.  The fact that the product’s packaging bears minor resemblance to Red Bull starts an entirely new discussion on what Red Bull is trying to do here.  Per the BevNet article on the different look of this product, could Red Bull be attempting to create sub-brands or sub-segments within their product portfolio?  Or are they trying to be show off more brand personality with the whimsical packaging?  Certainly thought-starters for a different day.

What we know so far is that after the foray into soda and energy shots, Red Bull has hit home runs with their energy drink product launches.  Red Bull Total Zero and Red Bull Editions should have generated incremental sales to their beverage franchise without much cannibalization.  Should the BULL energy drink become a staple, chances are it will be a success as well.

Red Bull Aims to Grow Category With New “Editions”

Red Bull EditionsRed Bull has held out for a long time, but has finally decided to launch new energy drink flavors to complement their original, sugar-free, and calorie-free flavors.  News from the National Association of Convenience Stores Show broke out that Red Bull will be bringing the three flavors that they had previously launched in Europe into North America.  The folks over at BevNet.com got a chance to taste the Red Bull Editions – Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lime flavors – and have posted their thoughts here.  These new flavors are expected to fully launch in March 2013, but will be available in limited edition capacity in November/December at 7-Eleven.

While this may seem like a genius move for Red Bull to launch new flavors, does anyone wonder why it took so long?  After all, Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy have launched so many new flavors, and have done so for over a few years.  The jury is still out on Red Bull’s most recent innovation was the Red Bull Total Zero – a line extension (see post here).  And both of their prior innovations are already discontinued (see post here).  Despite leveraging the “energy” association, their entry into energy shots was not a success.  All this really points to is that Red Bull has a bad track record when it comes to extending itself beyond their core offering and comfort zone – energy drinks.

This flavor launch fits the profile of introducing new products in an arena of familiarity.  These Red Bull Editions have existed in Austria and Germany for over a year, so there is a history of success and some sales figures to analyze before launching in North America.  Red Bull is sticking with its bread and butter with this launch.  Even the flavors that they picked – Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lime – are common and safe to make this a sure-win.

Red Bull Total ZeroThat said, what can Red Bull expect from the North America energy category with this launch?  Like the Red Bull Total Zero, the Editions will be shelved with the rest of the Red Bull family in the cooler.  And there is limited cooler space despite an unlimited assortment of energy drinks to choose from – for the consumer as well as the retailer buyer.  Unlike other energy drink manufacturers , Red Bull has the benefit of secure shelf space.  Most coolers will have at least two full shelves of Red Bull for three energy drink flavors so they have the ability to reduce facings for their own products to make room for these new flavors.  Of course, the more plausible selling story would be to remove competitive offerings to make room.  Simply choose the slowest mover in the category and replace it with the new products.  The Editions also stand a greater chance of adding dollars to the category dollars.  The European market sales figures hinted that more than half of the purchases were additional items, versus substitution items.

Consumers like trying new products, but they still want to do it within a comfort zone.  These Editions should do well given the strong  Red Bull brand name.  And beyond these three new flavors, there may be other Red Bull flavors that will come out soon enough.

POM Wonderful In the Headlines For Good & Bad Reasons

POM FTC Ruling Ad

Pomegranate juice manufacturer POM Wonderful has frequently been in the headlines these past few weeks, and not all are positive headlines.  Earlier this month the juice company extended their product line to include a smaller single serving bottle: the 236ml (8oz) bottle (one of many new articles link here).  Just last week they were involved in headlines for supposedly losing a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruling on deceptive advertising; it’s really about perspective as POM Wonderful believes they have won a considerable measure from the ruling (link here).  What does the FTC ruling mean for POM Wonderful now?  Will consumers still see the same advertising health claims from?  And is the 8oz bottle extension good for business, given that size proliferation eventually leads to product rationalization?

On the issue of the FTC ruling, POM Wonderful’s first reaction was to roll out some advertisements celebrating the judge’s ruling.  While they can no longer claim to prevent heart disease or prostate cancer without scientific research, the ruling agreed that there are indeed significant health benefits.  Beyond the first wave of advertising response, POM Wonderful may likely ramp up their health claims to test the limitations of the FTC ruling.  However, there will be a paragraph about how there was scientific research conducted to prove the particular health claim. The real question then becomes whether it will affect how other beverage products are advertised in the media (ie energy drinks with their claims of alertness, or energy shots claiming no crash, etc).

POM line-up

Relating to the introduction of the 8oz bottle, this line extension should fit well with the rest of the line-up.  One might argue for cannibalization, but the 8oz is going after a different consumer segment and a different consumption occasion.  Unlike soft drinks which has sizes like 8oz, 10oz, 12oz, 14oz, etc, the next largest size from the 8oz bottle is twice as large (16oz).  There stands to be more cannibalization between the 16oz and the 24oz bottle than the 8oz and 16oz formats.  Also, POM Wonderful appears to be targeting the health-conscious parent that wants their kids to think and drink healthy.  The 8oz bottle is perfect for kids, where parents can pack the beverage into lunchboxes or even be sold in school vending machines.   Even at such a small serving size, the bottles are resealable so the actual consumer (children) can use the bottle throughout the day.  In terms of grocery location, the 8oz bottle may not lead to product rationalization just yet; it may not even appear in the same location as the other POM products.  At such a small size, the 8oz bottle may appear in impulse coolers or ice barrels near the checkout where thirsty shoppers may want something tasty, small, and inexpensive to quench their immediate thirst.  The added benefit is then that POM Wonderful now has a secondary location to attract the shopper’s purchases.

In all likelihood, the 8oz bottle should sell well individually and not hurt the sales of other products in line-up.  Given that it is a single serve bottle that is targeted at youth, the natural line extension beyond the single bottle would be a multi-pack like 6x8oz bottles or 12x8oz bottles.  We’ll have to wait and see when that time comes, and what type of advertising health claims the communication shows.

V8 Launches Energy Shots

V8 Energy ShotIn the increasingly popular energy shots category, V8 has launched their own energy shots.  Using green tea extract as their natural caffeine ingredient, this 2.5oz (74ml) energy shot also includes nine fruits and vegetables such as blackberries, raspberries, apples, and tomatoes.  While the green tea extract serves as the energy component, the nine fruits and vegetables provide the user with antioxidants and vitamins.  The V8 energy shot are currently in a pilot rollout, as its only available in certain American markets, including Minneapolis, Jacksonville, and Colorado Springs.  The retail price for the energy shot is $2.99, and will be found in convenience stores, drug stores and grocery supermarkets.

My main questions for V8’s energy shot would be: in light of Red Bull recently discontinuing their energy shots, does V8 stand a chance in this category?  What makes them different from other energy shot products on the market?

Both questions can be answered by V8’s positioning.  The very thing that differentiates V8 different from their competitors is also what might give them a fighting chance in this category.  Not only is V8 a brand that the public trusts and recognizes, the ingredients themselves also source from healthy and easily recognizable ingredients.  Other energy shots still use healthy ingredients (such as taurine, tyrosine, and guarana), but their naming may easily confuse the shopper.  If you had a choice to pick up a product that contained green tea extract compared to tyrosine, which one would you pick?  Or one that contains strawberries and raspberries compared to guarana and phenylalanine?  The easily recognizable names are common natural ingredients that a shopper sees on store shelves anyway.  As such, it makes it less curious as to what the product is made of.  And from the V8 energy shot nutritional information (link here), they do a good job of providing a common name for the vitamins aside from the chemical name – again helping the shopper make the connection of what’s actually inside the bottle.  All in all, this will help differentiate themselves for other manufacturers.  A trusted name with easily recognizable ingredients certainly helps in this aspect.

In terms of their execution strategy,  V8 may have paid some attention to Red Bull’s energy shot and made the conscious decision to launch regionally.  Red Bull’s energy shot was a national launch in Canada after their introduction in the United States, and their product just wasn’t moving leading to their decision to re-focus solely on their core offering.  By introducing the product in specific regions and channels first, this may help the energy shot in gaining traction (and increase demand) from other regions if it is successful.  And if it is not gaining momentum, the regional rollout will minimize market impact on their losses.  The implication for Canadian consumers is that if this product is only in pilot rollout down south, it is likely to take some more time before it will appear in Canada.

It appears that V8’s marketing strategy to introduce their energy shot is well thought out.  On the sales side, a $2.99 market price point and available in the convenience, drug and grocery supermarkets also help.  All that remains is to see (and taste) the product.  Will it have competitive shelf space at the cash register?  Will the taste itself be too strong or too sweet?  For curious readers in the Minneapolis, Jacksonville, and Colorado Springs area, please try this product and leave me a comment on your thoughts!

Red Bull to Discontinue Cola and Energy Shots

Red Bull ColaChoosing to focus on their core offering – the canned energy drink  – Red Bull has decided to sell through the remaining inventory on their Red Bull Cola and Red Bull Energy Shots, and cease further production.

This may come as a surprise to certain some people, but predictable among other.  Red Bull Cola being discontinued seemed only a matter of time, as it never really gained distribution like their energy drink and faced tough competition from Coca-Cola and Pepsi and their broad array of cola offerings.  In grocery stores where it could be found, it was never placed in a position where attracted much attention from aisle shoppers and never really got a chance to succeed.  Adding to their demise was the opening price point, priced on average 50 cents higher than a 12oz (355ml) can of Coke or Pepsi.  While Red Bull products are generally higher priced based on its premium brand status, consumers were not receptive to Red Bull Cola as being a premium cola (or both Coca-Cola and Pepsi loyalists were simply that – loyal to their current cola offerings).  Red Bull Cola entered several markets to much fanfare especially in Europe and the United States, only to be discontinued starting in May 2011 in the United Kingdom.

Red Bull Energy ShotThe Red Bull Energy Shots being discontinued is more of a surprise.  Despite their late entry into the energy shots segment, Red Bull was a well-known manufacturer and thus many experts predicted that there would be carry over success from their canned energy drinks.  However, consumers may have already gotten used to look exclusively for 5-Hour Energy.  Though well-known as a energy drink brand, the competition was more fierce for Red Bull Energy Shots as many entrants were already in the category, and the shelf space for energy shots were extremely limited.  Not to mention the premium price point (50 cents higher than 5-Hour Energy and other competitors) served as a stronger deterrent given the absolute price points range anywhere from $2.49 – $3.49.

In choosing to focus on their core product – the canned energy drink – Red Bull may remain successful and possibly more profitable.  Though two revenue streams will soon be closed off, the disappearing costs to promote and maintain those two streams may provide them with more money to keep on the core product.  Their cooler door presence will just be as strong, as their unique size (8.4oz, 250ml) eliminate many competitive products from being placed side-by-side with them.

Since Red Bull will stop making energy shots, what will other manufacturers do?  The only success story in this market is really Living Essential’s 5-Hour Energy, as most products are even struggling to sell through before the expiration dates.  My guess is that in the next year, we will see more energy shots being taken off shelves, as grocery stores realize that the market is peaked.  The shelf space for these products, generally at the cashier will be available for faster moving products such as mints or gum.

Energy Shot’s New Target Audience: Baby Boomers

5-hour Energy ShotThe 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.

Energy Drinks Are a Health Risk

BevWire’s newsfeeds pulled an article (link here) from The Globe and Mail titled “Energy drinks pose serious health risk to kids: Canadian medical journal” reporting that these beverages contain a much higher caffeine level than the suggested portion for kids.  Kids.  Not teenagers. The article says that the suggested caffeine level for kids aged 12 or under is 85mg but energy shots and energy drinks contain more than that amount.  What can be done about this situation?  Why are kids buying these drinks in the first place?  Should these beverages contain a warning label similar to alcohol and tobacco?

Kids should not be consuming energy shots or energy drinks in the first place, so it is a curious situation as to how they get hold of these drinks.  If older siblings have left these drinks open on the table or in the fridge, then there needs to be some more communication to warn against their younger siblings.  It might come down to a parenting issue but that’s a totally different topic that is out of this blog’s context.

My focus is on what should be done about energy drinks.  Should there be a warning label placed on the packaging to warn of the health affects similar to alcohol and tobacco?   BevWire believes that will help but it is only part of the solution to prevent kids from buying these beverages.  Putting a warning label may deter some consumers, but it acts more as a communication awareness piece instead (link here).  That said, has anyone stopped buying tobacco just because there is a warning label on it?  In fact, it has had the opposite effect in getting people to quit smoking (link here); they are aware of the negative consequences but still continue to do it anyway.  The other half of the equation may be to treat it age-restrictive purchase item.  Health Canada should not only start putting warning labels on, but also impose a minimum age to buy the product.  This will at the very least limit younger kids from actively being able to buy the drink themselves (save for bypassing this law illegally).

Will this effective stop kids from being exposed to energy drinks?  Of course not.  There are always ways around the system to get what you want.  However, it does increase the government’s involvement in educating consumers about the health affects with warning labels and age limits.  With the right communication dedicated to bringing consumers’ attention to this issue and parenting (mentioned briefly earlier), the health risk energy drinks pose to kids will be decreased.