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Millennials & Women Trading Soda for Energy, Sports Drinks

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Energy and sports drinks have gone through a vigorous growth spurt over the past five years, the latest report from Packaged Facts found.

According to Energy & Sports Drinks: U.S. Market Trends & Opportunities, in 2016, energy and sports drinks reached $25 billion in sales after rising at an annual rate of 7 percent over the preceding half decade.

From 2011 to 2016, notable year-over-year gains were the result of consumers seeking beverages with functional properties, as well as novel and healthier alternatives to carbonated soft drinks. Coffee and tea drinkers were also drawn to the category with the promise of a convenient, on-the-go caffeinated beverage.

"Many consumers perceive sports drinks as healthier than sodas and other carbonated beverages due to their association with sports and physical activity in general. Although originally designed for athletes, these products soon garnered mainstream sales as anytime drinks, particularly among teen and young adult males," said Packaged Facts Research Director David Sprinkle. "The novel flavor profile of energy and sports drinks also appealed to consumers seeking a change from sodas."

The category benefited from above-average population growth among those ages 25-34, who are significantly more likely to consume energy and sports drinks. While the general U.S. population grew at a rate of 0.7 percent annually between 2012 and 2016, the number of millennials increased 1.4 percent annually, the report found.

While millennial men typically are the face of energy and sports drinks products, the category is gaining momentum with other consumers. Women in general are less likely to consume sports drinks, but millennial women consume sports drinks at levels that exceed their male counterparts. Similarly, women aged 50 and older also exceed males in consumption of energy drinks.

Findings of Energy & Sports Drinks: U.S. Market Trends & Opportunities also identifies the effect children in the household have on buying habits, like:  

  • Consumers with one or more children in the household are significantly more likely to purchase energy and sports drinks for themselves.
  • Having a single child bumps reported usage, and tends to increase with each additional child.
  • The age of children in the household influences usage rates for energy drinks but not for sports drinks. In fact, energy drink users are significantly more likely to have young children in their household.

Rockville-based Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics.

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