Negative news affects energy beverage category

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Negative publicity associated with the safety of energy beverages may be taking a toll on the category. A survey of energy beverage consumers by Mintel International shows that 59% say they worry about the safety of the products.

Events that may be contributing to the concern include a wrongful death suit brought against the Monster Beverage Corp. earlier this year, continued scrutiny by federal legislators related to the marketing of energy beverages to children, and a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Red Bull this past October.

“Energy drinks and shots faced significant scrutiny following lawsuits and proposed legislation that began in 2012,” said Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel Food & Drink. “The media attention publicly challenged the safety and health effects of this pick-me-up category. However, loyal users continue to drink the products because they are viewed as more effective than other beverages. This continued level of activity in the face of adversity has helped the category's rise to continue.”

Despite consumer loyalty, Mintel found that those who discontinued or reduced consumption of energy beverages did so due to health concerns as well as cost. Thirty-nine per cent of the consumers surveyed said energy beverages are not good for their health, and 35% said they have heard negative information about the health effects of the products.

“People’s desire for additional energy to accomplish everything in a given day will continue to fuel positive sales growth for the energy drink category,” Ms. Zegler said. “However, because even a portion of current users are cutting back due to health and safety concerns, companies must educate the public on the health, safety and global use of energy drinks, shots and mixes. Innovations in serving size and/or format could keep users active in the category and perhaps inspire new entrants.”
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By Danielle - - Insight into Food Science and Energy Drinks 1/10/2014 2:33:08 PM
There are three caveats to this Mintel study. First of all, 59% is almost a majority, but barely. How this figure was calculated and what questions were asked to determine this affects the implications of the study. Second of all, the definition of "energy drink" affects the implications of the study. For example, Starbucks and V8 make energy drinks, but those consumers might not share the same concerns as those of the Big Three. Thirdly, it's unclear how the weight of these safety concerns will affect the market. As safety concerns increase, will the sales of energy drink alternatives increase as well?