Starting an energy drink business is more difficult than many other businesses, due to the high market saturation of energy drinks. Yet, the demand for the energy drinks stays high and consumers are always looking to try something new. To be successful, you need to create a truly unique product, do in-depth market research and have enough capital to create consumer awareness of your drink.
Research the market. If you have been to the drink aisle at your local supermarket, you have seen an incredible variety of energy drinks. Do detailed research on the niches within the larger energy drink market. Over 200 new energy drinks hit store shelves in 2006, according to the market research firm ACNielsen. A good visual guide that showcases more than 200 of the drinks is published by Beverage Spectrum Magazine.
Consider the precise type of drink you want to sell. Every energy drink serves a different purpose and targets a specific group of drinkers. The major drink companies sell basic sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade, drinks that claim to improve performance such as Accelerade and CytoMax, caffeine-based energy drinks such as Red Bull and Rockstar and natural energy drinks such as Guru, Blue Sky Blue and GT's Kombucha tea.
Decide what kind of drink you would like to create and find out who your competitors would be. Go to gyms, health food stores and convenience stores to discover what is on the shelves and what consumers are buying. A top seller at an organic food store will be different than a top seller at a mainstream gym chain.
Consider also your specific target market in terms of geography. California markets are loaded with drinks that claim to have the latest special ingredient to make you healthy. Consumers on the East Coast or in the Midwest might want something completely different. Evaluate your target market locally and consider how the drink will be received on a regional and national level.
Hire an expert. Unless you have work experience in the energy drink industry, you should talk to someone who specializes in this area. One of these companies, Power Brands, is a beverage specialist consultant that has previously developed and launched numerous regional, national and international brands in the beverage industry. Such a company is key for understanding development, production and management from the very beginning. Other beverage consultants include Liquid Brands Management and Katz Marketing Solutions. A wealth of resources for all aspects of the industry exists at BeverageMarketing.com.
An expert can provide valuable knowledge and connections that you might not have on your own. This includes key data on past successes and failures, relationships with the press, the best suppliers of raw ingredients, connections to distributors and an understanding of the larger drink market.
Create your drink. Whether you start to mix together various ingredients in your garage or hire a company with a high-tech beverage research and development team, the bottom line is you need a great drink. Consider the raw ingredients, the taste and the target market for your particular flavors.
Think about the primary purpose of the energy drink and choose ingredients based on that. The base ingredient of most popular energy drinks such as Gatorade is high-fructose corn syrup. Many natural drinks such as Vivi Smart Soda use cane juice or other organic sweeteners. Other energy drinks consist of sweetened tea. Decide if you want it to contain juice, caffeine, vitamins, nutritional supplements or herbal ingredients. BeverageMarketing.com provides a list of ingredient suppliers.
Create brand awareness. It doesn't matter if you have a great tasting drink if no one knows about it. Develop a marketing and advertising plan that utilizes both established distribution chains and novel events that create a stir. Sponsor a sporting event, speak with local gyms, pass out samples at concerts and hire a spokesperson or model. The most important thing is to break through the masses of energy drinks on the market with a truly unique product.