The Energy Drink Industry

Who’s behind the endless list of brands?

Extreme RechargeIronically, the energy drink industry can be compared to a rave. It started out as a slow, but steady pulse, and erupted into a euphoric all-night party! Maybe it’s been the ability to tap into this segment of their target audience that makes energy drink manufacturers so successful in their ability to come up with innovative marketing methods. Or maybe it’s because those that are really successful in the industry are young, vigorous risk-takers themselves, who live their lives much like the people they sell their products to. One thing is for certain, the folks behind energy drinks identify with their market – particularly young, testosterone-filled males who welcome the energy drink revolution with open arms if it promises to kick-start their systems.

While the energy drink industry is partially made up of well-known soft drink heavy-hitters such as Coca Cola and Pepsi Co., it’s equally represented by an ever-growing number of smaller companies who are fighting tooth and nail to grab a piece of the consumer pie. It’s speculated that many of these smaller companies are made up of the very target audience that the energy drink industry is aiming to please. Why wouldn’t an athlete, computer gamer or raver know what the next best thing in energy drinks will be? This might explain the constant stream of new products that are unveiled on an almost daily basis from energy drink manufacturers who are brutally trying to top each other.

Smaller North American energy drink manufacturers often don’t have nationwide distribution for their products. This means it’s essential they get it right the first time, so their marketing techniques and strategies are usually aimed at a smaller, specific area and group of people. This is why you might notice energy drinks for sale in a convenience store in Los Angeles that you wouldn’t see in New York. This goes to show that competition is fierce. It’s similar to a gang mentality, as small manufacturers pop up in one area and bombard the market in their attempts to saturate that particular part of the globe.

You’ll notice from the advertising that most energy drink manufacturers will target a specific group –extreme sports enthusiasts, students, night clubbers, risk-taking executives, shift workers or the hip-hop and rave crowd – but never all of the above, unless you’re a big name like Red Bull. This explains the attention-grabbing, creative names such as Atomic X, Banzai, Cult Division, Dark Dog and Extreme Recharge. After all, a high-powered executive might not go into a store and buy a can of Dark Dog, but he might well have a stock of Extreme Recharge on supply for those late work nights.

You’ll also notice the market a particular energy drink is trying to target if they sponsor an extreme sporting events or a rave. This is often cheaper than making television commercials. All they need to do is sponsor the event, advertise in magazines that are geared to that particular “in” crowd, and hope the buzz spreads.

It’s also common to seek celebrity endorsements if the target audience is impressionable youths. Red Bull got lucky when popular celebrity magazines started capturing Britney Spears swilling the product. Eventually, her name was rarely mentioned without a Red Bull plug close behind. Thanks to Spears’ hankering for the cherry-flavored beverage (Red Bull didn’t pay her to endorse its product), 700 million cans were sold in the U.S. this past year. I think Brit deserves a free lifetime supply, don’t you?


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