Energy Drink Packaging Helps
Establish Credibility in New Markets
By Jennifer Acevedo
Sleek cans and edgy graphics have characterized the premium energy drink category and established the high-octane concoctions as the drink of choice among the extreme sports set. But smart marketers are looking beyond the traditional demographic and using packaging to position these popular drinks to appeal to a new and diverse group of potential consumers.
“Traditionally, the energy drink consumer has been an 18 to 24 year old,” says Brian Robinson, chairman, Vitamin Branding Corp., manufacturer of Everlast Nutrition products. “In the past 18 months or so, the breadth of energy drink consumers has expanded with fast-paced professionals and other middle-aged users entering the market.”
Growth in the category shows no signs of slowing down, according to Stagnito’s Food & Beverage Report 2004, with dollar sales growth versus the year prior up 54 percent and unit sales up 31 percent. Market leader Red Bull boasts more than $115 million in sales but there are literally hundreds of contenders, each attempting to establish a point-of-difference in an extremely crowded field. We’ll look at two efforts that are ahead of the curve.
Hitting the mark
What do extreme athletes and outdoorsmen have in common? Denver-based Go Fast Sports and Beverage is hoping that, in addition to a passion for the outdoors, the two very different groups also share a desire for products and packaging that speak genuinely to their market.
That said, Go Fast, in partnership with camouflage pattern brand Realtree, has set its sights on the outdoor enthusiast with the introduction of a special edition camouflage can.
“Sportsmen are the true architects of this idea,” says Go Fast athlete and seasoned bass fisherman Joe Trinko. “The Go Fast camo can was created to specifically address a hunter’s desire to maintain a low profile outdoors while enjoying the natural ingredients of a sustained energy kick.”
The slim 8.4-oz can, supplied by Ball Corp., features the Realtree “Hardwoods HD” camouflage pattern, one of the most versatile camo patterns on the market. A gold tone was chosen for the can, a departure from the category’s traditional silver-tone cans, to highlight the natural colors of the camo pattern. The size and shape of the can make it easy to stow in a cooler or stash in a hunting vest or jacket pocket.
Communicating in an authentic manner with this new and very different demographic was key to the success of the camo can project, and for that reason, Go Fast enlisted the help of experts in the field.
“When discussing our plans to design a unique, practical camouflage can for this industry, we approached Realtree because we knew they were the leader in the marketplace and that they would work closely with us to achieve the most realistic camouflage pattern on the package,” says Troy Widgery, founder, Go Fast Sports & Beverage Co.
In fact, Go Fast’s commitment to faithfully reproduce the camouflage pattern almost caused the entire project to be scrapped. The Hardwoods HD pattern selected for the can is an ultra-realistic pattern that is printed using a high definition printing process in twelve colors. Printing on the energy drink can, however, was limited to six colors.
Go Fast’s in-house design team, extreme athletes themselves and not accustomed to backing down from a challenge, devised a proprietary solution that allowed the pattern to be accurately reproduced on pack.
“It was essential for us to design a can as authentically as possible, to live up to the standards and expectations of the sportsmen and sportswomen of the world; and thanks to Realtree and our team of designers, a once-said-impossible can design has arrived,” says Widgery.
Initial feedback to the camo can has been positive, Widgery reports. The special edition camo can is available at select hunting outlets as well as online at
Bebida energética
Energy drink Explosión Tropical, part of the newly launched Everlast Nutrition for Latinos line, capitalizes on the increasing popularity of energy drinks and marries that opportunity with a target audience whose U.S. population is growing just as impressively. Everlast, a manufacturer of boxing equipment, enjoys strong brand equity among Latinos because of the traditional boxing fan base within that community.
“The Latino market is a very attractive market for all consumer packaged goods companies, particularly in the beverage sector. Latinos are gaining more power in terms of spending,” says Vitamin Branding’s  Robinson. “Latinos do have high consumption within the energy drink market. More importantly, Latinos are becoming significant in terms of absolute population (currently 40 million) and population growth (a birth rate four times non-Latinos).”
Packaging for the tropical-fruit ­flavored drink reflects the aesthetics and culture of the Latino market and was designed to represent a credible brand to the community.
“It is important to the Latino community that the offering has legitimacy. Unfortunately, most brands in the past have just slapped a Spanish language wrapper on the package and said, ‘This is for the Latino community,’” says Robinson. “We gained legitimacy through two means: first, by comprehensively addressing the Latino needs through packaging, language and taste profiles and second, by utilizing a brand name that enjoys excellent respect and authenticity in the market.”
Toward that end, Vitamin Brand’s internal design team incorporated bright colors that communicate the drink’s tropical taste, appeal to the market and contrast with the brand’s more subdued traditional yellow and black packaging. Designers also layered the word “Latino” across the Everlast logo and used Spanish language throughout the copy on the 8.3-oz can.
The launch will be supported with regional advertising in both Spanish and English. The product will be distributed through participating GNC stores in the US and will hit shelves on or about May 1. The line also includes three nutrition bars in flavors inspired by Latino culture and four traditional vitamin supplements. Target markets include, but are not limited to the New York Metro area, Los Angeles and Chicago. Robinson reports Explosion Tropical is expected to launch in Mexico and South and Central America in the third quarter. BP
The author, Jennifer Acevedo, is the Editor-in-Chief of BRANDPackaging magazine.

Where to go for more information...
Metal beverage containers. At Ball Corp., contact Denise Rodgers at 303.460.5001 or visit