Exploring new formats for energy boosters beyond brews and traditional energy drinks

30 Nov 2023

Rev Gum, a caffeine-infused chewing gum challenging the norms of gum consumption, emerges amid the declining chewing gum market and the rise of energy products and functional food.

Can this energy-boosting gum, alongside similar products, defy expected product characteristics and functions, while responding to the evolving expectations of health-conscious consumers?

Exploring new formats for energy boosters beyond brews and traditional energy drinks
© iStock/Diamond Dogs

In a world accustomed to sipping coffee or downing energy drinks to get its caffeine intake, Rev Gum offers a unique method of getting an energy boost – chewing gum. Blake Settle, a type 1 diabetic, conceived the idea for Rev Gum while searching for a healthier alternative to sugar-loaded energy drinks during finals at the University of Texas, leading to the creation of a fast-acting caffeinated gum with zero sugar and the caffeine punch of an espresso shot. With $6 million in recent funding and backing from figures like Lance Armstrong, the company aims to challenge conventional norms, introducing questions about the future of energy-boosting products.

The decline of chewing gum and the rise of functional foods

Chewing gum, once a checkout line staple, faces challenges, with the aftermath of COVID-19 delivering a substantial blow. In 2020, a 20% sales dip in the US resulted from reduced in-store visits, and Italy has witnessed a two million consumer loss with a 7% daily consumption drop in the past two years. The National Confectioners Association, a US trade organisation representing the confectionary industry, published a 2023 report on consumer insights. The report underscored a rise in e-commerce and a shift to online buying. Despite this, only 2% of gum's US unit sales occurred virtually.

Amidst this decline, the energy drink market thrived throughout 2020 and 2021, as highlighted by Mintel’s US Energy Drinks Market Report 2022. This success is attributed, in part, to shifting consumer demands for healthier options, with properties such as zero sugar and lower calories, and to the industry’s response to bring these products to market.

Machu Picchu Energy, a California-based startup, is an example of an energy drink company embracing the evolving consumer perspective and demand for energy drinks linked to broader health and wellness trends. With a product range featuring natural caffeine from organic green coffee beans, Peruvian maca, and B-vitamins, its catchphrase, "Feel Good. Do Good." encapsulates a commitment to feel-good energy and making positive choices for your body.

Credit: © iStock/simarik” title=© iStock/simarik

In alignment with these shifting consumer perspectives and a focus on health, wellness, and purposeful consumption, there has been a surge in the functional food market. Estimated at $98.9 billion in 2021 and projected to reach $137.1 bn by 2026, according to MarketandMarkets, modern consumers are increasingly informed and want to take responsibility for their healthcare and wellbeing. Notably, Gen Z, predicted to represent more than a quarter of the global workforce by 2025, actively seeks health benefits from everyday food and beverages, pointing to a promising future for functional foods.

How products like Rev Gum have the potential to reshape the industry and redefine product norms

Playing a pivotal role in propelling changes within the food and beverage industry, products like Rev Gum are at the forefront. As consumer trends shift towards functional foods and a preference for healthier choices, these products challenge established norms governing product characteristics and functions. By repurposing chewing gum—a product whose traditional role no longer resonates broadly—into a practical energy source, Rev Gum exemplifies a pragmatic response to the evolving expectations of health-conscious consumers.

Similarly, companies like Sourse have transformed the daily multivitamin into chocolate, stating on its website that chocolate's natural properties enhance nutrient absorption, making it an ideal delivery system for vitamins. In addition, 8greens offers a functional lollipop made from spinach, kale, aloe vera, barley grass, spirulina, blue-green algae, and chlorella, providing a creative way for people to incorporate greens into their diet. Grummies has introduced a range of gummies with diverse ingredients for various purposes, including ashwagandha for stress reduction, elderberry for immunity, and turmeric for anti-inflammation.

These products not only reflect shifts in consumer preferences but also raise thought-provoking questions about the potential to breathe new life into products by redefining their purpose, leaving room for transformative possibilities within the industry.

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