After runaway success in the late 1990s, the West European functional energy drinks market has slowed down, but looks set to sustain encouraging growth rates in the coming years. According to the 2004 West Europe Energy Drinks report from  drinks consultancy Zenith International, 2003 sales motored ahead by a further 6.5% to 311 million litres, translating into a market value of €2340 million.

An estimated 64% of 2003 volume was generated by away-from-home consumption through bars, clubs and petrol stations. The remaining 36% came from retail outlets, which are becoming increasingly important as the consumer base broadens. Due to their price premium, away-from-home sales accounted for 79% of value, while retail outlets took the other 21%.

"Strong marketing, wider distribution, the targeting of new consumer groups and occasions, packaging innovation and the arrival of better differentiated new products have been key contributors to current growth," said Zenith research director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Although Red Bull's supremacy remains unchallenged, supermarket own labels have begun to build a significant presence and a handful of other brands are carving out their own niche."

Red Bull still holds sway as the biggest energy drink by far, with two thirds of overall volume across West Europe. The brand is present in 13 West European countries and holds the lead in 12 of these. The rest of the top 20 brands took a combined 17% share. This indicates that the market is highly concentrated, with a long tail of numerous small brands.

Shark, from Austria, has strengthened its no. 2 ranking.  In third place, Battery from Carlsberg's Finnish arm Sinebrychoff, retains the distinction of being the only product to outsell Red Bull head to head, in Finland.

Fewer new brands are being launched compared with the 1990s and the early 2000s have clearly experienced a shake-out.  Many marginal operators have withdrawn their products or decided to focus on other business activities. The major soft drink multinationals have struggled to make headway, but are evidently determined to fight on in this key growth sector. Coca-Cola's Burn and BPM Energy Focus are both in the top 20, but not yet in the top 5.

At a national level, the share of more mature markets, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, is gradually being eroded as medium and smaller sized markets expand more rapidly.  The largest markets in 2003 were the United Kingdom with 26% of total volume, followed by Germany with 20% and Spain with 13%. German sales fell by over 20% during the year, in the wake of new packaging deposit legislation which hit cans particularly hard. In fourth place with 11% was Austria, which has the longest established energy drinks tradition and the highest consumption per person.