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Bad press affecting energy drink category: Mintel

By Maggie Hennessy , 08-Jan-2014
Last updated on 08-Jan-2014 at 15:36 GMT

Bad press affecting energy drink category: Mintel

On the heels of several lawsuits as well as proposed legislation on the marketing of energy drinks and shots, the category has faced an onslaught of negative media attention over the past several months, leading many consumers to question the health and safety of energy beverages. 

Nearly six out of 10 Americans (59%) who are current energy drink or shot users say they worry about the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, according to new research from Mintel. And yet, despite allegations of health hazards and government scrutiny, energy drinks are projected to post continued growth through 2018.

The energy drink, shot, and mix category has shown consistent annual growth from 2008 to 2013 (estimated) sales. The market reported two years of 17% increases in 2012 and 2013 (est.) and is expected to continue this steady upward trajectory to 2018.

"Energy drinks and shots faced significant scrutiny following lawsuits and proposed legislation that began in 2012. The media attention publicly challenged the safety and health effects of this pick-me-up category," said Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel Food & Drink. "However, loyal users continue to drink the products because they are viewed as more effective than other beverages. This continued level of activity in the face of adversity has helped the category's rise to continue."

Energy drinks more effective, convenient, but health tops worry list

More than half of the Mintel respondents (56%) who use energy drinks and/or shots say they do so because they are more effective for energy and alertness than other beverages; 35% say they are convenient, and 31% say they like the taste.

For those cutting back on energy drink consumption, health and cost are the leading reasons. Indeed, 39% of Americans say they are not good for their health and 35% say they have heard negative information about their health effects. Likewise, 35% say they are just too expensive.

"Manufacturers must address these health issues in order to retain current users, while concerns about price should be addressed by promotions and limited-time discounts," adds Jenny Zegler.

Men, women require different marketing tactics

According to Mintel, 79% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 who consume energy drinks  agree that companies should include recommended daily consumption limits on the packaging of their energy drinks, as opposed to 71% of men in the same age group. Moreover, 62% of women aged 35+ say they worry about the safety of energy drinks and shots compared to only 51% of their male counterparts.

"People's desire for additional energy to accomplish everything in a given day will continue to fuel positive sales growth for the energy drink category. However, because even a portion of current users are cutting back due to health and safety concerns, companies must educate the public on the health, safety and global use of energy drinks, shots and mixes. Innovations in serving size and/or format could keep users active in the category and perhaps inspire new entrants," Zegler said.

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