For a category still in its infancy the energy drinks market is now being swamped with small 'one-off' products.

Most want to make a quick buck from what they see as one of the fastest-growing sectors of the soft drink industry - energy/functional drink sales almost trebled in 1999 (Zenith International).

Across the globe, producers of energy drinks are targeting everyone from the age of 15 to those in their mid-30s. And with each new launch there is a new marketing approach - sports enthusiasts, party-goers, young executives - they are all associated with functional/energy drinks.

Even the world's number one soft drink giant Coca-Cola intends to break into Australia and the UK with its launch of the energy drink, Burn.

"No wonder the market is screaming out for more space"

Andrew Coker, director of communications at Coca-Cola Enterprises told "Burn is only going to be available on-premise in the most coolest, sophisticated and trendiest bars. It is a high-energy drink for those looking for that extra bit of energy. The people who go clubbing will be delighted with it."

But, being a company driven by strong marketing, Coca-Cola has had to re-think its marketing strategy behind Burn.

"It is going to be word of mouth which is a completely new way for us. But I think it is the right way for the people we are trying to introduce to our drink," he added.

Zenith International's Retail Briefing 2000 report on UK energy and sports drinks said: "no wonder the market is screaming out for more space" - in the UK alone, some £50m was spent on advertising energy and sports drinks between 1996 and 1999.

Japan and the US have a higher consumption of functional soft drinks per person, compared with Europe and are lead by sports drinks.

European consumption of functional soft drinks has almost trebled from 800 million litres in 1995 to 2100 million litres in 1999.

"To grow a category you need good quality products"

But the US market has the largest consumption at 3800 million litres - twice the size of Japan at 1700 million litres. While in Europe, vitamin and mineral enriched functional drinks have the largest share, followed by sports and energy drinks.

But how many of the 'one off' products will it take before the market becomes saturated and the consumer gets bored?

With so many unknown brands now trying to cash-in on the energy drinks sector the consumer could soon be buying the marketing hype and not a drink that has any effect.

Some drinks are full of protein, some are packed full of vitamins and other are loaded with caffeine. But with anything that claims to have any kind of effect - the consumer will be sceptical, until they have tried and tested it for themselves.

Leading brands are concerned that producers on the energy drink band wagon could damage the long term growth of the sector and are hoping for a shake-up of the market - to leave only the quality players.

Head of Red Bull communications, Kate Broe said: "To grow a category you need good quality products."

"What could be potentially damaging to the sector as a whole are the b2 products. If the consumer tries one of these products having bought into the marketing and it has no effect, we have potentially lost that consumer from the sector for good."

"It is not about taste and it is not about refreshment. It is very much about using the product to have an end result"

"You can tell the brands that have no long term intentions as they are selling on things such as taste, size of the pack, promotion and price."

She continued to say: "It is not about taste and it is not about refreshment. It is very much about using the product to have an end result. Red Bull is like no other because we identified a niche in the market 13 years ago and designed a product to fill a requirement."

Talking of Coca-Cola's entry into the market, Burn, Broe told "It adds credibility to the category as it shows there are long-term opportunities and we welcome competition, if it is healthy competition."

"Coca-Cola has been in talks for a long time but my gut feeling is that it came to the press before they wanted it to. Their cover has been blown and people will be expecting the big flash advertising."

"It is going to be unchartered territory for them and it will be interesting to see if they have the patience, the confidence and the savvy that will gain them credibility and respect from their respective audience - and not be seen sadly as trying to be like Red Bull," she added.

Figures from Zenith International show that 62% of all outlets do not sell Red Bull. Yet single cans of the energy drink 'designed to give you wings' still out sold cans of Coca-Cola in UK supermarkets in 1999.

"There will be even more energy drinks entering the market"

And if you go by current trends Zenith say that Red Bull could overtake Pepsi and Sunny Delight within three years.

Sales of sports drinks such as Lucozade Sport have also increased massively, by almost 23% between January 1999 and June 2000, with total take home value sales growing from £1.1m to £3.6m (Zenith International).

One thing guaranteed is the energy drinks market will continue to thrive.

Whether it be for the short-term or long term there will be even more energy drinks entering the market offering many more 'kicks' to the consumer. Whether they go the distance or make a quick buck and run - only time will tell.

Zenith International says that although 62% of all UK outlets do no sell Red Bull, one of the leading brands "designed to give you wings." Single cans of Red Bull still out sold single cans of Coca-Cola in UK supermarkets in 1999. And by current trends Red Bull could overtake Pepsi and Sunny Delight within 3 years.

Top 10 Energy and Sports Drinks Brands
All retail outlets in Great Britain, 1999

£ million
% growth
Lucozade Energy
Red Bull
Lucazade Sport
Lucazade Low Calorie
Lucazade Solstis
Lucozade NRG
Red Devil
Lipovitan B3
Source: ACNielsen