In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of energy drinks in the Nigerian market. The brands usually come in varying sizes and they are regarded as energy-giving drinks, capable of re-invigorating consumers, after a hectic day’s job.

But beyond the growing population of energy drink consumers in the country, lies a shocking discovery – virtually all energy drinks contain higher caffeine than that found in coffee beverages. Reports also show that the percentage of patronage in advanced countries is far less than that of Nigeria, as the drinks are gradually taking over the Nigerian market. It should be noted though, that many of the brands are going extinct due to the global recession.

On this week’s edition of Product Review, a weekly article where we feature products contending for domination in the highly competitive Nigerian consumer market, we bring to you the different energy drink brands vying for visibility and profitability.

Energy drink brands in the market

Nigerians’ love for energy drinks is evident in the myriad of brands that has saturated the market in recent years. The majority of energy drinks sold in the country are imported and this has kept their prices subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.

Early energy-giving drinks in the Nigerian market include the likes of Lucozade and Ribena. However, these brands are classified as soft drinks as they do not contain stimulants like caffeine, unlike the recent energy drinks that have found their way into the Nigerian market.

Because of its unique value proposition, Lucozade brand offerings continue to give value to its segment of the market. However, recent economic challenges have forced the once-owned GSK brand to be sold to a new owner, Suntory Beverage of Japan, in 2016. The new owner has continued with efforts to target a larger market share, while wading off competition. Late last year, it introduced Boost Sachet, an offshoot of its popular, Lucozade brand which is targeted at lower income earners.

Major players in the energy drink market include: Monster Drink from Coca-Cola, Bullet Energy Drink from the stables of Sun Mark Limited, Red Bull an energy drink sold by Red Bull GmbH, an Austrian company, and Power Horse by S. Spitz GmbH, another Austrian company.

Strategies adopted by various brands

Energy drink producers are now positioning their brands based on product innovation and repackaging at the backdrop of rising concern over consumers’ health. The value proposition for energy drinks is the fact that it enhances mental and physical performance because of the ingredients, the chief of which is caffeine. This has raised concerns among many on the health implications of caffeine.

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Brand owners are now claiming to have reduced the caffeine content. But despite the reductions, the products have remained in controversy due to their cardiovascular risk, as the producers have not deemed it necessary to warn consumers or even state the composition of the chemicals in their products labeling.

Product innovation and repackaging taking place in the energy drink market has also forced the producers to bring the products closer to consumers, through the direct marketing approach, as well as adopting the in-door display methods in stores to attract consumers’ patronage. The brands have also adopted the signing of celebrities and football stars to help put their brands in consumers’ faces.

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On the other hand, research has also shown that the caffeine content has beneficial effects on mental and physical functions in the human body, as it helps in breathing and ability of the cardiac muscles to contract. It also has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system and speeds up cardiac activity.

What consumers are saying

Research by Nairametrics shows that the energy drink industry is expected to witness strong growth driven by the huge population of young Nigerians and the increase in the number of retail channels in the urban cities.

In a market survey by Nairametrics, consumers expressed their love for different brands. Most consumers based their preferences on smell, smoothness, percentage of alcohol content, and presence/absence of caffeine. Price is not usually a major consideration in buying decisions, since the prices are relatively close in range.

Most consumers who responded to Nairametrics’ questions favoured Monster, Bullet, Power Horse, and Red Bull energy drinks. The reason most of them gave was that these brands are readily available at joints, motor parks, as well as retail stores.

A consumer, Mr. Femi Adewale, explained his love for Power Horse:

“The taste and smoothness in the mouth give satisfaction,” he stated.

A commercial driver who gave his name as Jamiu stated that he is a loyalist of Bullet and prefers it to other energy drinks.

“Bullet gives me energy when I want to have sex with my girlfriend in the night. It has not disappointed me.”

A superstore attendant, at a popular retail store in Opebi, said that from her observation, Power Horse, Red Bull and Monster energy drinks are doing better than others in the shop. A distributor, who claimed to sometimes supply some of the superstores, said that the three brands are leading the market.

The verdict

In a Twitter poll conducted by Nairametrics, Monster energy drink got 43%, Red Bull 23%, while Power Horse and Bullet got 15% and 19% respectively. For this week, Monster energy drink is the winner.

However, health regulators in the country must set up an awareness campaign on the possible implication of abuse of these energy drinks. Agencies such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, (NAFDAC) must ensure that harmful energy drinks do not find ways into the country and that brands in the country are strictly monitored in the bid to ensure that approved standards are followed.

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