Up-and-comers will need a lot of spunk to compete in the Energy Drinks market. This includes brand marketing powerhouses Coca-Cola (Full Throttle and Burn) and PepsiCo (Amp Energy, SoBe Adrenaline Rush and No Fear), as well as underdogs Rockstar and BooKoo Beverages. Category leader Red Bull is going to ride the bull until someone dares to knock them off.

Like a soaring stock, this fast-track category is about to split, creating premium, mid-tier and value segments. According to Geoff Bremmer, Monster brand manager, “Virtually all energy drinks are at the same price point. We think within the energy drink category, segmentation will start to rise with different packaging sizes and brands to create segments that open the category.”

Consumers have learned to recognize an energy drink by the category’s “typical” package: the slim-line can, pioneered by Red Bull. But that’s not to say there hasn’t been any innovation. Just last month, Food & Beverage Packaging reported on the first reclosable can design on Coca-Cola’s Burn energy drink (see p.42).

The added cost of reclosability makes more sense, though, for Monster’s 24-ounce can than for Burn’s 8.3-ounce size.

1. Red Bull

Red Bull dominates the U.S. energy drink market, which is estimated at more than $650 million by Beverage Marketing Corp. The company is bullish about its category leading position-and about its iconic slim-line can. In March 2008, Red Bull expanded into carbonated soft drinks with thelaunch of Red Bull Cola. Same can. Barely different graphics. Lack of innovation or a masterpiece of marketing?

2. Hansen's Natural

Hansen boasts a monster of a brand: Monster Energy represents more than 80% of the company’s sales. It features eight line extensions, a recognizable neon green claw logo and a variety of packaging options. The product, which premiered in a 16-ounce can, has grown to include a 24-ounceresealable “cap can” and a 32-ounce can. In 2007, Hansen signed another distribution agreement with partner/competitor Anheuser-Busch, this time to sell Monster Energy on-premise, expanding yet again into new territory.

3. Anheuser-Busch

With domestic beer sales slowing, A-B has broadened its portfolio beyond malt beverages. Its 180 energy drink brand helps it reach customers in new demographics. In 2007, the company introduced a number of line extensions: 180 Red, 180 Blue Low Calorie and 180 Orange Low Calorie. The brand’s latest foray is on-premise; A-B is now testing a draught form of 180.