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Case Study of Energy Drink Market in India | Analysis Red Bull, Monster & Sting | Rise of Sting

This article we will discuss Indian Energy drink landscape, chemistry of energy drink, STP analysis of energy drink, Positioning of Big 4 energy companies (Red Bull, Monster, Hell and Sting), difference between CAN and PET, advantages & disadvantages of energy drink, healthy alternatives to energy drink and future of CANs.


Redbull’s Wiings clipped? Pepsico's budget-friendly alternative Sting & competition from affordable CAN from Hell (Hungarian brand) is rocking India.
Redbull's Legacy is in danger.
Redbull's Legacy is in danger.

Part 1: Energy drink landscape in India. Sting is the new King.

Market share as per information in public domain.
Market share as per information in public domain.

Key Highlights on the Indian Energy drink market:

  • Indian Energy drink market is touted at around Rs. 3500 Cr. ($ 470 mn)growing at 12% CAGR. 33.5 Mn litres of energy drinks are being consumed in India.

  • The growth was 35% from 2020 levels. In volumes, it was pegged at 33.5 million Lt.

  • Industry experts estimate it to cross Rs.10K Cr. By 2028.

  • Currently, China is at $6.4 Bn. & USA is at $15 Bn.

  • Volumetrically China consumes 7X and USA 11X compared to the average Indian consumer (Average energy drink price calculated)

  • Rising stress, high expectations & corporatization aid in the growth of the Energy drink industry.


Part B: What is the chemistry of Energy Drinks?


Energy drinks are designed to stimulate metabolism and increase our alertness level. A typical can of energy drink contains Caffeine, Niacin, Taurine, Guarana & Ginseng (and a lot of sugar too).


Let's understand each ingredient (This section is a bit technical, you may skip this if you are not interested in science. SKIP):


1. Caffeine:


Formula of Caffeine
Formula of Caffeine
  • Caffeine, an adenosine receptor antagonist, is a mood-altering drug which stimulates neuronal pathways in the central & peripheral nervous system. Caffeine helps in work-out by burning fat as a fuel which allows the muscle to work longer.

  • Most energy drinks contain 70-200 mg of caffeine per serving (250-350 ml). Consuming higher than 200 mg of caffeine cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, tachycardia, arrhythmia, & nausea.


2. Taurine:


Formula of Taurine
Formula of Taurine
  • Taurine is a sulfur-based amino acid which modulates skeletal muscle contractile function and may attenuate exercise-induced DNA damage, with some evidence showing the ability to improve exercise capacity and performance.

  • Taurine assists in/as retinal development, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cell membrane stabilization, osmoregulation, and detoxification.


3. Vitamin B (B1, B3, B5, B6, B7, B12):

The B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins required as coenzymes for regular cell function. It is involved in mitochondrial function and energy production.


All these vitamins have specific functions as mentioned below:

  1. Thiamine (B1) helps in carbohydrate metabolism.

  2. Niacin is also known as Vitamin B3. Niacin has positive effects in restoring a healthy lipid profile & delaying the progress of atherosclerosis.

  3. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is required for coenzyme A, α-ketoglutarate, and pyruvate dehydrogenase formation, as well as fatty acid oxidation.

  4. Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) is a coenzyme involved in amino acid and homocysteine metabolism, glucose and lipid metabolism, neurotransmitter production, and DNA and RNA synthesis.

  5. Biotin (vitamin B7) is the coenzyme of decarboxylases required for gluconeogenesis and fatty acid oxidation.

  6. Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) helps maintain nerve cell function, is needed for the production of DNA, and is important in red blood cell formation.


4. Guarana:


Guarana Fruit
Guarana Fruit
  • Guarana is a rainforest vine that is cultivated in the Amazon forest for its caffeine-rich fruits and has long been used by the Aboriginals to increase awareness and energy.

  • Guarana seeds contain more caffeine than any other plant in the world, with levels ranging from 2% to 8%.

  • Guarana also contains the stimulants theobromine and theophylline.


5. Ginseng:

Ginseng Plant
Ginseng Plant
  • Ginseng is an adaptogen (a natural herb product said to increase the body's resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety, and fatigue) which is believed to increase energy, relieve stress, and increase memory by stimulating the hypothalamic and pituitary glands to secrete corticotropin.

  • Adverse effects associated with ginseng include hypotension, edema, palpitations, tachycardia, cerebral arteritis, vertigo, headache, insomnia, mania, vaginal bleeding, amenorrhea, fever, appetite suppression, pruritus, cholestatic hepatitis, mastalgia, euphoria, and neonatal death.



Apart from the above ingredients, there are many such as Gingko Biloba, Sorbic acid, Citric acid, minerals, Glucoronolactone, L-carnitine, etc.


PART C: Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning of Energy Drinks.


1. Segmentation:

Here we have to create sets of target-worthy consumers based on various characteristics. Below are 4 very broad ways to segment your consumer.


Demographic: This focuses on dividing the market based on variables such as age, gender, income, and education level.


Geographics: This involves segmenting the market based on location. Cities are classified as Metro, Tier-1, 2, 3, etc.


Behavioural: This segments you based on your habits and routine. E.g., Clubbing, Golfers, Gyming, Gaming, etc.


Psychographic: This segments the audience based on personality traits, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle.



2. Targeting:

Most energy drinks strategies around targeting on 4 segments we discussed above. Today when digital privacy is dead & our digital footprint is being captured so accurately, precise targeting becomes a piece of cake for giga-corporations.


Target based on Demographic:

- Young adults (18-35 Yr) who are active and outgoing.

- They are looking for a boost of energy to help them stay focused and productive.


Target based on Geographic:

- Urban areas where sports activities are prevalent.

- Regions with hot climates, where energy drinks are popular to combat fatigue.


Target based on Behavioral:

- People involved in daily workouts, Gym, Pilates, etc.

- People with an active nightlife, gamers & binge watchers.


Target based on Psychographics:

- Health-conscious consumers, trying to balance a busy lifestyle but still mindful about their consumption.

- Hedonistic crowd who believes in the "work hard, party hard" philosophy.


3. Positioning:

Based on Target segment, each segment has unique positioning tailor-made.


Example 1: "Fuel for Young Achievers" which highlights the ambition and energy needed by young professionals.


Example 2: "The Urban Warrior's Drink" marketed as a daily asset for thriving in fast-paced, hectic city life.


Example 3: "The Fitness Enthusiast's Secret" for urban dwellers, specifically targeting gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts.


Example 4: "Active Balance" is appreciated by consumers who balance a busy lifestyle and still maintain a healthy diet.

Part D: Positioning difference among the big 4 of Energy


A. Red Bull: ~35% Market Share globally- The Market Leader


Positioning of Red Bull
Positioning of Red Bull

B. Monster Energy: ~25% Market Share globally- The Market Challenger


Positioning of Monster Energy drink
Positioning of Monster Energy drink

C. HELL Energy: No. 1 in CAN segment according to Nielson Reports India.


Positioning of Hell Energy drink
Positioning of Hell Energy drink

D. Sting energy drink from Pepsico: No. 1 in overall Indian Market- Stress more on material aspect of Energy instead of inspirational pitch from Red Bull or Monster.


Positioning of Sting Energy drink
Positioning of Sting Energy drink

PART E: Distribution Infrastructure of big 4 energy drink.


A. Red Bull: Natural pull in Market. Unorganized distribution.

  • Red Bull entered India in 2009. It is following a Hub & Spoke model by appointing distributors.

  • Red Bull also rely heavily on Wholesalers & Cash and Carry like Metro for redistribution.

  • Red Bull also has huge infiltration from nearby countries.

B. Monster Energy: Patchy distribution in selected markets. Good market pull.

  • Monster on-boarded Rahul Narang group after their split with Red Bull in 2012. Multiple importers operates in India independently.

  • RN group has impressive portfolio of Lindt, Perrier, Twinings, etc.

  • Monster operates via wholesalers and Cash&Carry channels.

C. Hell Energy: Building organized distribution in India.

  • Hell entered India in 2018 & in 5 years it became number 1 in “CAN” category of energy drink based on May 2023 data of Nielson.

  • Hell operates on Super-stockiest model of distribution.

  • Hell, stresses on organized distribution via authorized distributors.

D. Sting Energy: Pepsico’s Infrastructure Advantage.

  • Sting being a product of Pepsico has a highly organized distribution of Varun Beverages Limited.

  • VBL has appointed distributors across India to maximize coverage.

  • In PET bottle category sting is a market leader and it is slowly making inroads in counter share of CAN segment.

PART F: What is better? CANs or PET bottles?

Overall CANs are more sleek and premium compared to PET. Also, they have higher flavor retention and longer shelf life compared to PET. PET bottles have lower carbon footprint and cheaper compare to CANs.

Comparative difference between CANs and Plastic PET bottles.
Comparative difference between CANs and Plastic PET bottles.

PART G: What are some of the pros and cons of energy drink?


Advantages & Disadvantages of Energy drinks.
Pros & Cons of Energy drinks.

PART H: What are the healthy alternatives to Energy drinks?


Best alternative is water as it contains zero harmful ingredient and good for body. Apart from water, Green Tea and Lemon/Herbal Tea are fairly harmless and refreshing.


Teas are natural product.
Teas are natural product.

FINAL Verdict: Can PET bottle replace the CAN?

PET bottles won’t be replacing the iconic CANs but they will surely below damage:

  • Corner value-buyers who prefer value over Brand.

  • Young consumers with less disposable income may switch to PET bottles.

  • As PET bottles using Bollywood stars to build their brand equity, many first-time adopter will start with PET.

  • Due to high availability via better distribution, people may switch to PET.



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