July 1, 2008

Coca-Cola: Making Energy Drinks More Appealing

Coca-Cola is set to launch a range of coffee energy drinks under the Full Throttle energy drinks brand in the US in August 2008. The drinks are said to combine the taste of coffee with the intensity of an energy drink, representing another example of how manufacturers are maximizing the appeal of energy drinks by combining energy-boosting ingredients with hedonistic flavors.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft drinks company, has announced the launch of a range of coffee energy drinks under the Full Throttle brand. The beverages, which are set for launch just six months after the company added a Juice Energy variety to the Relentless line of energy drinks, are directly targeted at males, combining energy-enhancing ingredients with hedonistic flavors. The launch is indicative of how athletes are no longer the main target audience of energy drinks manufacturers, but rather time scarce consumers who struggle to maintain a work-life balance.

As consumers work increasingly longer hours, it is becoming more difficult for them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. A 2005 survey by AC Nielsen found that 34% of US adults go to bed after midnight during the week, while a similar number (29%) are out of bed by 6am. As a result, sleeping patterns are being disrupted, with the National Institute of Health estimating that some 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder.

Although consumers are increasingly seeking out products that prevent fatigue and maximize performance, manufacturers still have to remember the importance of sensory appeal when targeting mass markets, and this is leading to a crossover in the energy and soft drink categories. In March 2008 for example, leading energy drinks producer Red Bull released an all natural cola beverage called Simply Cola, which was intended to widen the brand's appeal. Similarly, Coca-Cola's coffee energy drinks are differentiated from traditional energy drinks by their indulgent mocha, vanilla and caramel flavors.

The combination of performance boosting ingredients and hedonistic flavors is a trend that will continue to prevail in the energy drinks market. Traditionally, athletes have bought energy-enhancing products to maximize performance, and the issue of taste has not been prioritized. However, busy consumers who are attempting to balance their work and social life are looking for beverages that maximize performance without compromising the taste and enjoyment associated with the product.