Speaking to BeverageDaily.com at Brau Beviale in Germany, senior product manager for energy drinks, Marc-André Schöppner discussed Doehler’s concepts, including drinks with 10 per cent fruit juice and ‘new taste’ energy drinks such as Rockstar Guava.
Other innovations included a water-based coffee energy drink and colour concepts such as ‘green apple’, which he said reflected the growing importance of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging (leading to greater product visibility) in the segment.
But Schöppner said products such as those with 10 per cent juice (to give drinks more body and boost ‘healthy’ product perceptions) were likely to remain a point of diversification, rather than threaten the mainstream energy drinks proposition.
“As long as Red Bull is the core of the market, then the core of the market is very artificial, and you can diversify with a 10 per cent juice containing product. You are the ‘better’ energy drink,” Schöppner said.
He added: “If the market is containing 10 per cent you need to have 20 or 25 per cent in order to diversify, so this is probably a couple of years down the road.
“But not right now. I think you can diversify with a more natural product, a new taste, less of the maybe harmful ingredients like taurine and a little more juice content.”
Challenge for brandowners
Diversifying at this stage was not much of a challenge for brandowners, Schöppner said, because they still had the “opportunity to be one of the first movers in so many different areas”.
The concepts were there, Schöppner added, developed by brands such as Rockstar and Monster, while he also cited Red Bull’s roll-out of new cranberry, lemon and blueberry flavours in Austria.
“They [Red Bull] have seen that they have to have a different type of taste, and you can still capture a whole bunch of the market right now.”
But Schöppner warned that in future it might be more difficult for firms to differentiate products.
He said: “In the future as energy goes more cross-category, you will have your energy carbonate, your fruit splash, energy juice, energy beer.
“Then it will be very difficult, because you will have so many different types of energy concept, and the consumers don’t really know anymore what energy stands for,” Schöppner added.
“Is energy the undefinable tooty-fruity, is it just a fruit splash with some caffeine, or is it a sports drink that contains a little guarana extract? What is energy? And then it gets really difficult, as it is for sports drink, right now, for example. So it’s really an opportunity now.”
Schöppner said that until 2-3 years ago, the energy market was basically Red Bull and a variety of ‘me too products’, “with an undefinable what we call ‘tooty-fruity taste’”.
New taste dimensions
What happened thereafter was that the market shifted towards new taste dimensions, Schöppner said, because brandowners wished to extend the target group beyond the core 16-25 year-old range, due to changing taste perceptions amongst consumers growing older.
Doehler also presented a coffee energy drink at Brau based on water rather than milk. Both Rockstar and Monster’s existing coffee varieties were based on milk, Schöppner said, so the drink broke new ground.
He said: “But it’s relatively polarising, either people love it or they don’t like it at all. Also, in terms of the carbonisation, some people say ‘this is a coffee drink, why is there carbonization?’.”
“And others say, this is an energy drink, why isn’t there more carbonization? So, it’s always a question from which standpoint you look at the product.
“For this coffee energy, it’s a huge challenge. Is it an energy drink with a coffee taste or a coffee drink and you don’t call it energy, but let people make the connection from coffee to waking up?
Schöppner added: “Or is it just ‘energy black’, and you don’t call it coffee? So there are so many opportunities, but this is a quite a challenge for this product."