Cocktail flavors to cognitive enhancement: Zenith’s Top 13 energy drinks trends


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Zenith International says 'cocktail flavors' have trended up in post-2012 energy drinks launches (Stewart Butterfield/Flickr)
Zenith International says 'cocktail flavors' have trended up in post-2012 energy drinks launches (Stewart Butterfield/Flickr)

Related tags Energy drinks Soft drink Caffeine Coffee

Zenith International includes cocktail flavors and cognitive enhancement within a list of 13 top trends it says have driven innovation in energy drinks on the basis of post-2012 product launches.

Specialist food and drink consultancy Zenith identifies the trends in its new report on Energy Drinks Innovation, which profiles 90 brands and details issues such as packaging type and size, pricing, ingredients and marketing.

The 13 trends are as follows: fruit flavors, sour flavors, cocktail flavors, sugar free, zero-calorie/zero-carbohydrate, limited editions, cognitive, health and wellness, health and fitness, juice and energy, water and energy, tea and energy, coffee and energy.

Popular flavor blends in alcoholic beverages inspire energy launches

Asked for more color on cocktail flavors, Christina Fritts, consultant, Zenith International, told "Popular flavor blends in alcohol-based beverages have given rise to cocktail-inspired flavors in energy drinks. Some examples of this are non-alcoholic BLU Energy Drink (Australia), released in 2013 and available in mojito and other flavors; and non-alcoholic Pirate Energy (United States), released in 2014 and available in margarita and hurricane variants, among others."

Moving on to juice and energy, we suggested to Fritts that PepsiCo, with Mountain Dew Kickstart​, had convinced consumers in the US that it was somehow healthier, due to a nominal juice injection. Were consumers convinced by this, or was it more a case of using juice for better flavor and mouth feel?

"Products containing healthier and all-natural ingredients continue to trend across food and drink, and energy drinks are no exception. New product development in energy drinks made with real fruit juice is on the rise, as it is believed to appeal to consumers that think fruit juice is healthier than some of the ingredients used to flavor traditional energy drinks,"​ she said.

Energy drink consumers flock to fruit juice, for health, taste and breakfast​...

"In addition, they offer new flavor variants and some consumers find that fruit juice combinations taste better. Most importantly, companies that have developed these products believe that they will thrive because they are designed for a consumption occasion that has previously been ignored in the category – morning / breakfast meal time,"​ Fritts said.

"It appears that consumers are convinced, as new products and variants are continuously introduced. However, it will take some time to truly evaluate as most of the products are still fairly new,"​ she added.

Finally on sour flavors, Fritts said that sour fruits, mainly, were trending up in energy drink and shot NPD: think apple, lemon, cherry, berry flavors.

9 key innovation areas

Zenith identifies nine areas where innovation is occurring in energy drinks: new flavors, low calorie/low sugar, innovative energy boosting ingredients, natural propositions, organic ingredients, added functionality, limited editions, packaging initiatives, cross-category development.

Referencing energy drinks as one of the most dynamic soft drinks segments, Zenith chairman Richard Hall said: “Consumers are being offered an ever-wider selection. Some have new functional claims such as memory and metabolic enhancement.

Zenith 1

“Some are targeting new age groups such as older audiences or new occasions such as breakfast. Some are aiming to be more natural or healthy. Others are even more adventurous, such as a fruit and mint flavor or a glow in the dark bottle,”​ he added.

Tea, water, milk and coffee volumes soar

The trend towards using tea extracts within energy drinks is striking, and Zenith reported last week that tea was by far the largest of the 24 drinks categories, with consumption growth of 62bn litres from 2008-2013 (see Figure 1 above).

As the consultancy relaunched its online database, it also highlighted the growth of bottled water, which together with tea accounted for 55% of overall beverage market growth in the five years to 2013 (See Figure 2).

Zenith 2

Milk enjoyed the third largest volume growth with 20bn liters (overtaking carbonated soft drinks) followed by coffee on 16bn liters, which overtook beer.

Five other categories achieved growth of 10-12bn liters – still drinks with a low fruit content, carbonated soft drinks, beer, fruit drinks with a fruit content of 5-25% and iced tea.

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