Coming Soon: Energy Drinks Minus the Caffeine

Major beverage-maker eyes new day-parts, consumers with line extensions

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

NEW YORK -- Convenience-store retailers can expect low- and no-caffeine versions of one of the most popular energy drinks in coming months, potentially expanding the day-part and consumer base for the beverages.

“Based on conversations with several c-store retailers, we believe Monster [Beverages] will expand its existing offerings to include both low- and no-caffeine Monster energy beverages, which one retailer described as ‘innovation that matches what consumers want,’ ” wrote beverage-industry analyst Bonnie Herzog in a report this week. “These line extensions would likely still include Monster’s proprietary energy blend (including Taurine, Glucuronolactone and Guarana) but have less or no caffeine, thus appealing to new consumers and creating new consumption occasions.”

Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities said Monster Ultra Sunrise will “go head-to-head with Mountain Dew Kickstart,” while Monster Unleaded will be “a caffeine-free ‘energy’ drink.” Trademarks for the beverage names were filed in May 2014. Both, Herzog expects, would drive incremental sales.

For years, energy-drink makers have claimed there is a larger, untapped market for their beverages but image hurdles and misconceptions to overcome. Line extensions that lower the caffeine content could open the door to older and younger consumers, as well as more females.

“This new-product offering could open up a new category since many consumers like the taste and flavor of energy but don’t like the effect it has on them short and long-term,” one c-store retailer told Herzog.

She said the line extensions could enter test markets in the next few months and launch nationally in either the fourth quarter of 2014 or the first half of 2015. “Bottom line,” she said, “we believe a low- and no-caffeine Monster energy product would fill a large hole in Monster Beverages’ existing portfolio.”

The products, she said, would serve several key functions including:

  • Increasing trial by non-energy drinks consumers.
  • Expanding Monster consumption into afternoon and evening occasions.
  • Accelerating share gains from existing CSD consumers.
  • Expanding Monster products into new shelf space.
  • Increasing household penetration.
  • Limiting cannibalization relative to existing lines.
By Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
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