Producers and distributors said growing awareness of the role energy drinks can play in different consumer occasions has helped bolster sales in bars and clubs.
According to Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the company behind the Monster and Relentless brands, the sector is enjoying the kind of growth rarely seen in the current climate; it claims the category is worth £233 million in the UK on-trade, and is growing at 21% year-on-year.
Product innovation and investment have driven awareness of the sector over the last ten years.
In Scotland the picture is even brighter, according to figures supplied by Red Bull. The firm behind the energy drink brand claims the category is currently seeing growth of 32.9% in the Scottish on-trade and is worth £27m.
“Driving this growth is an increased understanding of the energy category and the role that it plays in consumers’ day to day lives,” explained Red Bull trade communications manager Tom Smith.
“For pubs and bars this could be fuelling a high energy night out or to give a boost to a post-work slump or getting the evening off to a flyer.”
To take advantage of the category’s buoyancy, Smith said operators should ensure the energy drinks they stock are displayed on drinks menus with pricing clearly flagged up so that consumers know exactly what the drink costs.
“Make sure you’re communicating the right products and up-weighting consumer purchase earlier in the evening to long mixed drinks that are going to increase their bar spend and dwell time,” he said.
As with other drinks categories, it seems there is potential to grow sales at the premium end of the category.
To take advantage of this, Smith said bar staff should steer consumers towards higher-margin drinks.
Colm O’Dwyer, sales and customer development director at CCE,said innovation has been key to the category’s growth.
“Consistent product innovation, brand investment and customer activation have really driven awareness of the sector over the last ten years,” he said.
“Energy is a hugely exciting opportunity for licensees and they should focus on having a tight range of brands that their customers know and trust.”
Recent innovations in the sector include the launch of new flavoured variants from brands like Red Bull and Rockstar, which is distributed by AG Barr.
Alan Hay, on-trade controller at AG Barr, said flavoured energy drinks are becoming a major focus for the sector as well as for consumers.
“Flavour is becoming a motivating factor of choice,” said Hay.
“‘Original’ flavour accounts for 63% of the category and is a must-stock variant.
“However, flavoured energy is the fastest-growing sector of the energy market, growing by 85% across the last two years and representing 37% of category sales.”
The introduction of different flavours is also credited with attracting new consumers to the category.
“Some consumers don’t buy into the category because they don’t like the taste of energy drinks,” added Smith at Red Bull. “So offering them a range of new flavours will tackle these concerns and ultimately bring more consumers into the category.”