Plant-based energy shots experience buzz in the market

16 Nov 2020

Plant-based options are making inroads into a variety of categories within the food and beverage market. Go Big and Proper Wild are two new entrants into the space that are taking aim at a small category that has yet to experience significant innovation from plant-based producers: energy shots.

Both brands launched during the same period that the pandemic was unfurling, which resulted in both brands opting for a direct-to-consumer sales platform to roll out their products to consumers in the United States. As part of their launch, both companies focused primarily on their plant-based attributes of the energy shot brands and the better-for-you halo that these characteristics impart in order to appeal to consumers that have increasingly searched for functional products that can contribute to their overall well-being.

Plant-based energy shots experience buzz in the market
Image Courtesy of Proper Wild

Go Big offers its plant-based shots in three flavors – Blood Orange Ginger, Blueberry Açaì and Raspberry Pomegranate – that are energized with 200 mg of caffeine and guarana, a Brazilian nootropic plant native to the Amazon basin. Proper Wild similarly has three flavors – blackberry, peach mango and ginger – but instead of an Amazonian nootropic, the brand opts for green tea-based caffeine and L-Theanine to boost its beverage.

By lowering the sugar profile and focusing on energy sources that are plant-based, both brands have appealed to consumers and have grown successfully through their DTC approach. Go Big said, “Fifty percent of customers made a second purchase within a month of the initial purchase,” and Proper Wild said its sales have grown 700% since March.

Although it is clear that there is a demand for these plant-based energy shots, these two newcomers are not the only competitors on the scene. Energy beverages are a big and growing segment. Mintel data showed that sales of energy drinks and energy shots grew by nearly 30% from 2013 to 2018, and total sales in the U.S. market are expected to reach $16.9 billion by 2022, according to data from Market Research Hub.

As a result of this growth, beverage giants like PepsiCo, with its recent purchase of Rockstar Energy and Amazon, that released a private-label energy drink brand called Solimo last year, have edged into the space looking for growth to boost their bottom lines. There is also a plethora of smaller, startup brands that are competing for consumers looking to be energized.

However, energy shots are only a portion of this multi-billion dollar energy drink category. For the 52 weeks ending in May 2020, energy shots generated $978 million in the United States, according to Statista data, but the category has experienced a downward trend in recent years. In addition to only representing a small portion of overall energy drink sales, the shots category is dominated by one brand: 5-Hour Energy. Statista data show 5-Hour Energy accounted for the lion’s share of sales with $867.67 sold between May 2019 and May 2020.

Not to be daunted, both Go Big and Proper Wild called out the leading energy shot brand as their primary focus for targeting consumers and building their own market share. Though energy shots remain less popular than other energized beverages, with plant-based products continuing to gain popularity, there is a good chance that consumers will give these brands a second look when they appear on store shelves.

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