Domestic entry: Thai energy drink brand reformulates to suit needs of skilled, middle-aged workforce

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

COMMANDO Original is a energy drink by Thai firm Krungsiam Beverage.
COMMANDO Original is a energy drink by Thai firm Krungsiam Beverage.

Related tags Thailand Energy drink Beverages

A Thai energy drink brand is introducing healthier versions of its products as it enters the domestic market, including less sugar and a higher nutrient content, to attract the growing skilled work force in the country.

Energy drink brand COMMANDO belongs to Thai firm Krungsiam Beverage.

A new entrant to the Thai market, the brand is however, no stranger to countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam. Its products are sold in over 36 countries but it only ventured into the local market this year.

A less sugar version of its flagship drink COMMANDO Original, has been introduced in Thailand to attract consumers who are health conscious and specialised occupations.  

The product, known as COMMANDO Light, has about 8 percent sugar content.

The company is also selling three other SKUs, namely COMMANDO Plus, Man and Dare in Thailand.

Nutrients such as lysine, the amino acid that helps to convert body fat into energy, taurine, vitamin B3, B5, B6, B8, B12, and choline can be found in the products.

For COMMANDO Man, ginseng and cordyceps are also added into the formula.

The drinks are sold in convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide.

“Our products are targeting 'skilled workers' between the ages of 30 and 50 across all fields of expertise, especially construction contractors, technicians, trained workers, and freelancers with specialized skills,” ​said Sittinan Assarasee, MD of Krungsiam Beverage Company.

“We have set our growth target at 3 percent within three years, before entering the Stock Exchange of Thailand,”​ he added.

According to market research firm Mintel Thailand, growing health and wellness concerns have put pressure on the energy drinks market in the country.

This is because energy drinks are commonly perceived as sugary and artificial.

“This is an opportunity for brands to alter the general perception by formulating with ‘cleaner’ and natural energy-boosting ingredients, while offering low or no or reduced sugar alternatives,”​ Kornthanin Wichaijiranath, food and drink analyst told NutraIngredients-Asia.

Market shrinking

On the other hand, the consumption of energy drinks in Thailand has been declining, because consumers, especially the white-collar workforce, are seeking mental, rather than physical energy boosts.

“Despite being an established category in Thailand, the consumption of energy drinks is declining,”​ Kornthanin said.

One reason, Kornthanin explained, was because the white-collar workforce has been expanding, but this group of individuals seek mental rather than physical energy boosts.

Citing data from the National Statistical Office, Kornthanin said the number of white-collar workers employed in the private sector has increased by 7.6 percent from 2018 to 2019.

At present, the country’s energy drink market is dominated by Osotspa, which is behind the brand M-150, Carabao which sells Carabao Dang, and TC Pharmaceutical, which sells Krating Daeng.  

Osotspa said in its 2020Q3 financial result that the company enjoyed a market share of 54.4 percent in the energy drink segment, with M-150 the market leader.

To attract the millennial consumers, brands such as Carabao Dang and Shark have introduced new carbonated variants with exciting fruity flavours.

This is in contrast to the non-carbonated and unflavoured options which form the majority of the market.

CLMV markets

According to Krungsiam Beverage, they have found success in neighbouring countries before entering the domestic market.

Sittinan told us that Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) were the biggest markets for COMMANDO range of products, largely consumed by labourers and skilled labourers.

The brand is also relatively popular in Africa, he added.

A reason behind the popularity in these markets, could be because of the young, labour-intensive workforce present in these countries.

“The CLMV markets are important for Thai energy drinks brands…Rapid infrastructure development and industrialisation, together with a strong base of blue-collar workers are expected to drive consumption in these markets,”​ Kornthanin said.

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