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Energy Boosted


Consumers have more than just liquid options when they need a lift

Energy drinks made way for energy shots. Now, the tables have turned once again and energy shots are making way for a host of non-beverage energy products targeting that same consumer who's looking for an extra kick in an easily portable form.

"There are three things people want: something that tastes good, something that is fast-acting, and convenience or portability," said Andy Settler, president of PureBrands LLC, manufacturer of Sheets Brand Energy and Sleep dissolvable strips.

The driving factor behind energy drinks, energy shots and non-beverage energy products like Sheets strips is simply that consumers have the need for more energy.

"From a consumer standpoint, they are looking for whatever they can to give themselves a bit of an energy boost," said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight for Mintel, a global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence. "Overwhelmingly, [consumers] say they need more energy to get through the day."

Teens are also likely responsible for much of the growth of new energy products due to their willingness to experiment, she noted. "It's a much wider range of brands that they buy."

Some convenience store chains — and drugstores — are embracing the small but growing energy products segment, while others have shied away due to lack of obvious demand.

"At this time, 5-hour [Energy shots] has almost a 95-percent market share in our stores," said Kent Raphael, director of category management for Road Ranger truck stops and travel centers. While Road Ranger has tried selling non-beverage energy products in the form of patches, dissolvables and chewables, "new products will often drive customers to try new items, but many do not have staying power."


One new energy product, AeroShot Energy, attracted some controversy along with a safety and legality review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it debuted in early 2012 in the Massachusetts and New York markets. The product prompted worry that its "breathable" energy might make it too easy for people, especially youths, to consume too much caffeine too fast.

Since then, though, AeroShot made its national debut at 3,100 Circle K stores in October and after making some labeling changes, the FDA has had no further concerns, according to Eric Freedman, the company's senior director of marketing.

Conceived as an air-based burst of chocolate flavoring for maximum taste with no calories, AeroShot is a powder that consumers draw into their mouth and swallow. Ingredients include 100 milligrams of caffeine mixed with B vitamins — the equivalent of approximately one cup of regular coffee.

AeroShot is not the only air-based caffeine around. Turbo Snort caffeinated nasal spray launched online in early 2012 and more than 500 independent convenience stores have since added it to their shelves, manufacturer GSC Products LLC stated.


For customers who prefer to get their jolt delivered in a slightly more traditional way, a number of chewable energy items are available. C-store chains such as Fastrip, Rebel Oil and Terrible Herbst stock caffeinated LiveWire Energy soft chews.

Chewable energy products capitalize on consumers' need for portable yet "less obvious" energy products, said Brad Bruckner, chief marketing officer for The Pharma Gum Co., maker of Java Gum, another chewable energy product.

Java Gum has targeted truck drivers as a fitting customer due to their long hours on the road.

Bruckner pointed out that the recent questions over the potentially negative effects of liquid energy products have opened consumers' minds to alternatives, and some c-store retailers agree.

"Some people think drinks and shots are too dangerous and I often hear, 'I don't want to get a heart attack from those things,'" said Michael Turco, category manager for Rockland, Mass.-based Tedeschi Food Shops, which carries Java Gum in select test stores. "Chewing a piece of gum is an everyday activity and I think can suppress some of the fears."

PureBrands' Settler predicts that non-beverage energy products will become more prevalent as consumers recognize there are other ways to deliver energy and seek alternatives to try.

Tedeschi's Turco agrees that consumers are looking for new ways to get energy. However, he doesn't think anyone has found "the right formula or magic bullet."

When it comes to marketing non-beverage energy products, there are a number of things retailers can do to educate customers and increase sales. Suppliers also point out that the low footprint and high margins per square inch make it worth taking a chance on such items.

"[The] most important thing is location," said Settler. "Consumers already expect 5-hour Energy and similar items to be at the counter. Placing alternate energy products on the counter beside them helps build a mental association and overcome hesitancy about trying something new."

For comments, please contact Angela Hanson, Field Editor, at [email protected].

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