The lines between sports drinks and energy drinks are blurring as both beverage types have increasingly similar qualities. One explanation for these overlapping qualities is that consumers are looking towards ready-to-drink beverages to address their health concerns.
Global Energy Drink Trends
Across the globe, energy drink trends display a greater market penetration compared to sports and functional drinks. The second of many energy drink trends involves nutrition, which plays a vital role in exercising. So much so, that 56% of consumers globally claim to use hydration products often or always in conjunction with their exercise routine. This percentage in energy drink trends lies slightly higher than one-third of respondents who claim to use energy products in their exercise regimen, while 42% of consumers use protein products in association with their workouts. Among consumers of each of these three subcategories, consumption frequency is highest for meal replacement drinks, which are consumed more often than sports or energy drinks. 20% of consumers say they drink meal replacement drinks four or more times per week.
What’s Shaping the Category?
Energy drink trends in the global launch space reveal that energy drinks have continued their growth trajectory over 2018-2022, at a five-year CAGR of +17%. Contrastingly, innovation in sports and protein drinks has remained flat. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) led energy drink trends innovation, as NPD rates show that 73% of Africa and 76% of the Middle East’s new product launches landscape consisted of energy drinks. In comparison to Australasia and North America, more than half of new product launches were ready-to-drink sports drinks at 60% and 54%, respectively.
Global Sports and Energy Drinks Claims
The global sports and energy drinks market saw certain claims grow across all sports and energy drinks segment globally. Sugar-free, no added sugar, vegan, and vegetarian claims increased in global presence across all segments. Dialing it down to just energy drink trends in the drinks category, caffeine is in 85% of total global energy drinks. Additionally, the use of bulk and non-nutritive sweeteners continues to grow now are now occur in nearly two thirds of launches in the latter period.
Consumers Market Response
Consumers look to sports and energy drinks as a means to reach their activity and fitness goals. Innova’s Top Ten Trends can be seen in this category. Consumers expect more nutrition and ingredient transparency, seeing it as a basic expectation towards companies to help them Unpuzzle Health, Innova’s trend that reflects the growing importance of communication and certification to reinforce consumers’ ongoing health strategies. Brands are responding with decreasing the sugar levels in their product portfolios and investing in more detailed labelling.
Market Leader Responses
Sport and energy drink trends show that major players in the sports and energy drinks market are stepping up to the plate with plant-based offerings, not just in protein drinks but in value-added plant superfoods that tout wellness benefits, supporting the increase in vegan and vegetarian claims.
Other sports and energy drink trends show that consumers with busy lives demand convenience without sacrificing quality, so major brands have responded by selling the idea of Quick Quality, a trend that reflects the rise of culinary creativity during the pandemic and the need to marry this with convenience now that busier lives have resumed. Companies’ quick quality ideas consist of portable, lightweight formats such as soluble tablets and powders. Rapid rehydration messages in new product launches hint at a faster recovery, rehydration, and results.
Nutraceutical, functional and vitamin and mineral ingredients are growing across the energy and sports drinks segments, blurring the lines between the segments as they promise to impart cross-functional benefits. One such cross-functional beverage consumers can expect is PepsiCo’s anticipated addition of their all-day hydration product called Gatorade Water, a zero-calorie, unflavored alkaline water, purified with a seven-step enhanced filtration process, and a plant-based Muscle Milk protein drink.
Brands are beginning to experiment with hybrid combinations in the sports, fitness, and energy drink market, such as PepsiCo’s hybrid caffeinated energy and sports drink, Fast Twitch, which was introduced in 2023. Brands may look to revitalize relevance of their older product lines by offering more hybrid products that suit a wider range of consumer needs.
If manufacturers reap rewards from their experimentation with hybrid offerings, look for more products that offer various benefits from each segment in new combinations, flavors, and formats.
This article is based on our report, “Revitalizing the Game: Navigating the Global Future Trends of Sports & Energy Beverages.”
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