The energy drink market does not seem to stop its rapid growth. Energy drinks have made themselves a staple in certain sectors and has begun to branch successfully into several other niche sectors.

When a large number of consumers jumped into the energy drink craze, the big energy drink companies began producing more extreme (and some might say, more shameless) products. When another group voiced their opposition to what they saw as big companies pushing unhealthy drinks to the youth, the companies began producing alternatives that were marketed towards the health-conscious sector looking for natural and healthy benefits.

Now it seems there is a specific type for everyone. Although the growth of the energy drink market has slowed since the original explosion a few years back, it has yet to stop. It seems the market has been established and these drinks are here to stay. Despite the continual surfacing of numerous reports indicating the dangers of the high levels of caffeine in these drinks, it seems the energy drink companies feel the health dangers and concerns are worth the risk considering the massive profit.

The History of the Energy Drink Market

Athough energy drinks have been around for a long time, the explosive birth of the energy drink market in the United States happened in 1997 when Red Bull was brought to the masses. This product was originally made by a company in Thailand called Krating Daeng, but has been marketed worldwide by the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH. Ever since its introduction in 1997, Red Bull has been the top-selling drink of its kind with about 65% of the market share.

Originally marketed towards students and young people who wanted a boost to help them stay up studying for tests or for endurance during sports, Red Bull soon infiltrated an even bigger sector when it established itself as the newest and hottest cocktail mixer. Today, the Red Bull Vodka is one of the most popular cocktails amongst young clubbers and bar-hoppers as it provides a stimulant to counter the depressant that is alcohol.

Because the primary consumers of the drink were young and “extreme” people, any and all health concerns that began to be raised about the caffeine levels and dangerous ingredients in energy drinks only helped to make the product more appealing to its primary targets.

Brands like Rockstar and Monster began to emerge, targeting themselves towards the young, extreme crowd through their names and packaging and by sponsoring music festivals and extreme sporting events. The young, urban hip hop market was won over by the energy drinks sponsored by hip hop artists, including Nelly’s Pimp Juice, Lil Jon’s Crunk!!! and Kanye West’s TBD Guru Energy.

Seeing the success of many companies playing up the illicit nature of these products, even more extreme brands have since emerged, including Cocaine Energy (which has been banned and re-released twice since its conception), Blow Energy Mix (which is labeled as “pure uncut energy” packaged in a vial of white powder) and Pussy Energy Drink (which really requires no introduction).

In addition to these, healthy and natural versions of these thinks have also emerged on the scene, appealing to those people who feel they need an energy boost but cannot ignore the many new stories about people collapsing of heart failure and seizures upon excessive consumption.

FRS Healthy Energy, ACT Energy, Verve Energy and XS Energy have begun to take the alternative energy drink market while the more mainstream brands release low-carb, sugar-free and diet versions of their drinks.

Growth and Projections of the Energy Drink Market

After its birth in the US in 1997, this market grew to about 400 million per fiscal year by the year 2001. By 2005, it had reached about $4 billion and now that it’s growing at an annual rate of approximately 12%, it is projected to surpass the $9 billion mark by 2011.

It is estimated that the current United States market share for Red Bull is approximately 40%, with Monster behind at about 23%, Rockstar at around 8% and Full Throttle in at about 4%. The general demographic for this market as a whole is under 35 years of age and predominantly male. Diet energy drinks as well as the natural and healthy alternatives are skyrocketing in sales as they’re pulling the health and fitness market as well as the female and slightly older demographic.

Trends in the Energy Drink Market

The explosion of energy shots proves that this niche market boom is not ready to die down just yet. In 2008, sales of this specific sector of the market came in at approximately $560 million and continues to grow. These tiny 2 or 3 ounce drinks are selling for up to $3 per shot with 5-Hour Energy leading the pack in sales and popularity.

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve seen a growth since 2002 of these drinks being packaged in larger cans. Many countries (including the U.S. and Canada) have limited the amount of caffeine per serving in these drinks. In response to this, we’ve seen many companies (including Monster and Rockstar) sidestepping this by simply packing two servings into one can.

2007 saw the emergence of energy powders and tablets marketed as the more convenient and portable form of energy for athletes and people on the go.

The Future of the Energy Drink Market

With brands like Cocaine, Blow and Pussy still catching the eye and loosening the purse strings of consumers, we’ll likely see the birth of more and more outlandish and extreme brand names designed to piss off parents and make young people feel cool and wild enough that it’s worth the $2-3 a pop.

Enough people will remain skeptical, steadfast and outspoken enough that the healthy energy supplement market will likely continue to grow with more and more featuring herbal ingredients like green tea extract, ginkgo biloba and ginseng. The companies will continue to appear more transparent with the truth about energy supplement nutrition as well as the real ingredients they contain. Whether pure truth will actually surface and whether consumers will actually take caution is another story.