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Older Millennials Emerge as Core Energy Drink & Shot Consumers

CHICAGO — Although energy drinks and energy shots have caught a bad rap over safety concerns for their containing certain ingredients, these products are expected to remain popular particularly with older millennials (aged 27-37) who may be transitioning into parenthood, a new Mintel report revealed.

The main reason for this, the researcher found, is that lifestyle changes drive usage of energy drinks and energy shots. 

Today, 64 percent of older millennials consume the products, making this group the core consumers of energy drinks and shots in the United States. While the same percentage of younger millennials (aged 18-26) currently consume energy drinks, older millennials are increasing their consumption.

Nearly one-third of older millennials (29 percent) consumed more energy drinks within the past three months, compared to 22 percent who said they consumed less. This outpaces the number of younger millennials who reported consuming more energy drinks (16 percent) vs. 27 percent who said they drank less.

Additionally, older millennials strongly agree that energy drinks and shots are good substitutes for alternative caffeine drinks, including coffee (65 percent) and carbonated soft drinks (64 percent).

“Older millennials are, more likely than not, going through a lifestyle shift such as getting married or having children, including 55 percent of those aged 30-34 with kids. As a result, their interests and priorities are shifting and individuals who require more energy are turning to energy drinks and shots,” explained Elizabeth Sisel, beverage analyst with Mintel.

Interestingly, older millennial consumption goes against the grain of most energy drink advertising today, which focuses primarily on young, single consumers and their active lifestyles. “Our data shows the older millennial consumer segment displays more brand loyalty and potential for long-term usage,” Sisel said.

Mintel data also shows consumption rates of energy drinks and shots are higher than average among U.S. parents. Households with children are significantly more likely to consume energy drinks (58 percent) and shots (48 percent) compared to households without children (27 percent and 18 percent, respectively). Among U.S. parents, 68 percent of fathers and 38 percent of mothers consume energy drinks.

Fathers increased their consumption rate by 28 percent, compared to 21 percent who drank less. Although men are largely consumers of energy drinks and shots overall, consumption in women drastically increases with the presence of children. Mothers (38 percent) are not only stronger consumers than men without children (34 percent), but they are also significantly more likely to drink energy drinks and shots than women without kids (22 percent).

The newly released Mintel research also highlighted that:
  • U.S. millennials increased energy drink consumption from 55 percent to 61 percent from 2014 to 2015, despite the fact that 74 percent of older millennials expressed concerns about product safety compared to 65 percent of overall consumers. 
  • 81 percent of consumers agree companies should include recommended daily consumption limits on energy drink/shot packaging.
  • Safety concerns have had little impact on consumers. While two-thirds (65 percent) worry about the safety of regular energy drinks and shots, it does not stop them from consuming the products. Only half of consumers drinking fewer energy drinks and shots agree they are concerned, compared to 68 percent who are drinking the same amount and 41 percent who are drinking more.
  • Consumption overall has diversified with consumers drinking both regular and natural energy drinks and shots (27 percent). This leans toward a growing popularity of natural claims in the category, with 30 percent of users consuming natural energy drinks and shots.

“While there has been a movement, especially among millennials, toward more natural ingredients, the energy drinks and shots market remains largely unaffected by changing consumer attitudes,” Sisel said. “The majority, a full 90 percent, of natural energy drink consumers also drink regular energy drinks. The steady consumption of both regular and natural energy products implies that U.S. consumers may not perceive energy drinks as negatively as pop culture conveys.”

From 2009-2014, the energy drinks and shots category saw a 56-percent increase, including a quick recovery from low sales gains in 2013 when the industry came under fire for ingredient safety. Mintel predicts the industry will continue to grow through 2019, increasing by an estimated 52 percent from 2014-2019.

While parents and millennials show increases in consumption of energy drinks, they have decreased their consumption of energy shots. Energy drinks make up 89 percent of market share, with the segment expected to grow 10 percent in 2015 to $10.8 billion. Conversely, energy shots is one-eighth the size and expected to decline in 2015 sales for the third consecutive year.

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