Homegrown Australasian energy drinks are happy going their own way

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Energy drinks Soft drink

Homegrown Australasian energy drinks are happy going their own way
Yesterday, we looked at how energy drinks, in spite of their small market size, have been enjoying an effervescent year of growth in Asia, to the point the continent now accounts for two out of every five litres sold.

This is worth comparing to the industry in Australia and New Zelaand, which has its own unique character due to the homegrown nature of the market.

Despite a decent consumer-base, the geographical location of these two countries has seen them historically overlooked by the international soft drinks trade. Consequently, both embraced this isolation and built up a strong, self-contained soft drinks industry with its own unique features in respect of product, brand and packaging preferences.

Foreign supplies of energy drinks now total around 100m litres a year, but the leading product in both markets is V, from Suntory-owned Frucor Beverages, which is manufactured in New Zealand. 

V for volume

Research by industry market analyst Canadean has revealed that V is responsible for more than one-third of all energy drink volumes in Australia and New Zealand, despite the best efforts of international competitors like Red Bull. Another top-seller is Mother, which whilst owned by Coca-Cola but originated in Australia. Despite their success at home, neither V nor Mother is well known elsewhere in the world.

Mother was instrumental in the leap in popularity of the 50cl energy drink can—which is much fatter than the more internationally recognised 25cl energy drink measure. The larger container really took off following the re-launch of Mother in its new size in mid 2008 to the point that the 50cl can is now responsible for two-fifths of category volume across Australia and New Zealand—slightly in excess of the contribution made by the 25cl size. On a global basis, though, the larger can is still in its infancy, accounting for less than 5% of energy drinks volumes.

Another popular pack for energy drinks Down Under has been the single-serve, non-refillable glass bottle. It may have lost out in recent years to larger-sized packs, but is still responsible for a 15% localised market share today—higher than the international norm and partially reflecting a seasonal shift in favour of bottles over the summer months, when Australasian consumers are outdoors more and prefer the convenience of resealability. 

Sugar-free trends

Screw-cap glass bottles are most favored by female drinkers. Indeed, the launch of sugar-free versions of both V and Red Bull in 2003 was believed to have encouraged the use of glass bottles amongst diet conscious females. 

Canadean’s research shows reveal that sugar-free energy drinks now hold around a 7% category share across Australia and New Zealand. This is slightly above the global average, but only in line with what it was back in 2003. It seems most target consumers—in the 18-35 age range—are more interested in the energy boost provided by these beverages than they are concerned with calorie control.

Energy drinks volumes have more than quadrupled across these two markets in the past 10 years and continue to expand, albeit at a decelerating rate. Sustained consumer interest and new consumption occasions, coupled with a broadening of product variations, and supported by image focused marketing, are continuing to drive the category. As a result, Canadean forecasts Antipodean demand to exceed 220m litres by 2018.

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