Posted by Dale Buss on February 17, 2010 05:51 PM
Over the last couple of years, major energy-drink brands have launched their own smaller, shot-style drinks to try to exploit the growing niche created by the success of 5-Hour Energy.
Now, however, the category is cluttered as Full Throttle, Amp, and other energy-drink stars have leapt into the shots business. While shot sales continue to climb strongly overall, standard energy-drink sales have dramatically leveled off – especially for some of the bigger brands that are trying to work both ends of the market.
Take Full Throttle, for example. Sales of its shot version rose more than 250 percent in supermarkets, drug stores, and mass merchants (except Wal-Mart stores) surveyed by Information Resources Inc. But sales of the mainstay Full Throttle energy drink declined by nearly 3 percent during the same period.
Ditto for Amp. Shot sales climbed by 49 percent during the surveyed 52 weeks, while energy-drink sales plummeted by nearly 14 percent. Likewise for Rockstar, one of the leading independent brands. Shot sales climbed by 87 percent for the designated 52 weeks while sales of the staple Rockstar energy-drink product fell by 9 percent.
It’s true that these brands’ shot entries remain tiny compared with the energy-drink properties that they have spent many years building, but the trends are pretty striking.
Clearly, the energy brands believe that they need to be in both segments even if the effects could be cannibalizing instead of synergistic. Even Red Bull has launched its own shot.
But just as the energy-drink market has slowed down to a trot, it may be too late – even for Red Bull – to switch horses. That’s because the plucky independent brand that single-handedly created the shot segment, 5-Hour Energy, already has galloped away with the shot market, much as Red Bull once rode alone in energy drinks. And no one is going to catch it.