Worth £1.5 billion, energy drinks is a high value, high growth category and one of the best performing sectors in the soft drinks market.

Emerge, from Refresco Beverages, offers a wide range of energy variants and flavours.

Following extensive research, the brand has been given a new look and feel and is constantly extending its range with new flavours, the most recent being 500ml Cherry Isotonic.

Nick Partridge, Commercial Manager at Refresco Beverages UK, tells Wholesale Manager what trends are driving the UK energy drinks market.

What does your role as Commercial Manager involve on a day-to-day basis?

Being the Commercial Manager of Emerge means that day-to-day I’m juggling numerous projects and working closely with a great team of people.

My core role is setting and implementing the strategic direction of the Emerge brand across all channels. I am constantly on the look out for new opportunities to grow both Emerge and our wider market sector.

Retailers and consumers are top-of-mind and my team is always striving to deliver excellence and add value – whether it’s through NPD, promotional activity, marketing support or branding.

The role is a dynamic one, partly reacting to consumer and retail trends, while always seeking to drive innovation.

What are the key products in your range wholesalers should be stocking?

We have to start with our best selling product which is the original flavour 250ml functional energy can, it supports the consumer impulse opportunity and offers an ‘energy boost’ on the go.

While consumers in the energy drink market do tend to be brand loyal, it’s important that wholesalers offer choice and cater for ever-changing tastes and consumer lifestyles. As such, wholesalers should consider stocking Emerge 250ml ‘Zero sugar’ which offers an alternative for the increasingly sugar-conscious market.

Isotonics offer a strong opportunity especially coming into the summer months. The range now includes five flavours and promotes good hydration supporting sport and leisure activities – whether it’s a long awaited session in the gym or football in the park.

Isotonics also have the added benefit of including electrolytes and vitamins – great for both performance and recovery.

What is the value of the UK energy drinks market?

Energy drinks continues to be one of the best performing sectors in the soft drinks market and is currently worth £1.5 billion. (Reference: IRI Total UK Market, Energy Drinks, Value (£), 52wks to 21.02.2021)

What trends are driving the market?

The pandemic legacy including changes in lifestyle relating to how people work, travel and take leisure is likely to continue influencing market trends and consumer behaviour this year.

Healthier lifestyle choices are also driving market trends, with no and low sugar options growing in popularity; we also find consumers often opt for products with added benefits in hydration such as vitamins and nootropics.

Choice is always key and flavour innovation is a recipe for success – consumers tend to prefer a wide choice of flavours from their favourite brands, as opposed to a multitude of brands with fewer flavour options. And, as always we find value-for-money, especially in this uncertain economy is a main driver of sales.

What share does Emerge have of the sugar energy drinks market?

Emerge has a 1% share of the total UK functional energy market. (Reference: IRI Total UK Market, Energy Drinks, Functional Energy, Value and Volume Share (£), 52wks to 21.02.2021) Emerge is currently the 7th biggest energy drink brand in the UK market.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted Emerge’s business and the energy drinks category?

There is little in business that hasn’t been impacted, but what we have seen is a shift in purchasing habits. Consumers have been less ‘on the go’ and the ‘stay at home’ message has meant retail in commuter areas has been impacted, whereas there has been an uptick in more residential areas.

There is no change in that people are still consuming energy to provide an extra boost throughout the day, what has changed is where they consume it – during lockdowns that has been more working from home and home schooling.

As restrictions ease, once again we expect patterns to change especially with the reopening of gyms and onset of summer, consumers will be looking for hydration to support increased physical activity.

How has the company’s portfolio of brands evolved in recent years?

We are always innovating and reacting to meet the demands of the category – in recent years we have introduced many different flavours and formats into multiple categories within energy. The most recent of which is the successful launch of our 500ml Cherry Isotonic.

What advice can you provide for wholesalers to maximize sales?

Wholesalers should remain proactive and prepare for the re-opening post lockdown, where consumers will be increasingly ‘on the go’ and demanding impulse energy.

Energy is a high value, high growth category, we suggest maximizing visibility in store through POS and ensuring a range of flavours and variants to keep consumers engaged with the category.

How is your range currently performing?

Sales continue to build throughout the year as consumers continue to want great tasting, functional products without compromising on price. The summer months mean people will be increasingly ‘on the go,’ and as restrictions are lifted consumer confidence in retail is expected to return.

We anticipate good growth moving into the second half of the year with a competitive promotional strategy, trade events and activation.

What brand activity have you planned?

Last year we took time to consider what is right for Emerge and its consumers and our new branding launched this year is very much the result of extensive market research.

We are proud that consumers have driven our new look and feel, and we are excited to see our new packaging lining wholesalers’ shelves in the coming weeks and months.


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