Sports and Energy Drinks Ascending Thanks to Health-Conscious Consumers

Sports and energy drinks have seen significant sales growth over the past year.

Sales of sports drinks were up 14.3% on a dollar basis to almost $5 billion in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 8, while energy drinks were up 20.3% to $4.9 billion, compared to 7.7% growth for the overall beverage category, according to Food Institute analysis of IRI data.


So, why are those categories seeing so much growth? The Food Institute spoke to Jon Copestake, EY Global Consumer Senior Analyst, for insight.

“The simple answer to this question is that younger, more health-conscious consumers are looking to sports drinks as an alternative to traditional categories – especially as brands have moved to become synonymous with fast growing sports that have a strong appeal to young consumers, like skateboarding, parkour/free running and e-sports,” he said.

Though overall sales are up, Copestake noted that some sports drinks have even been underperforming, leading some brands to pivot into more functional categories to tap into where the growth is.

“This aligns with overarching trends that have emerged during COVID-19 where consumers have been more concerned with their mental well-being and the effects of anxiety and loneliness as well as boosting immunity to improve resistance to disease,” he said.


EY’s Future Consumer Index saw that 34% of consumers are willing to pay more for products that promote health and wellness.

One company tapping into the healthier energy drinks trend is Molson Coors—and it appears to be paying off. The company is the distribution partner of Zoa Energy, which was co-founded by actor Dwayne Johnson.

It’s the number one new energy drink in the latest four weeks of IRI [data],” said Pete Marino, president of Molson Coors’ emerging growth division, as reported by CNBC (Aug. 18). “It’s very early days, but it’s been tremendously successful thus far.”

In its second-quarter earnings release, Molson Coors said that the results of its non-alcoholic brands like Zoa have already surpassed expectations for the whole year.


There are three ways in which brands have been consistently driving sales, according to Copestake.

  1. Easy-to-use interfaces: A number of brands, especially startups, have developed easy interfaces for direct-to-consumer channels, which makes it easy to buy or subscribe to their products using a combination of apps, text services and physical and digital stores.
  2. Marketing and brand positioning: Energy drink brands in particular have successfully repositioned themselves using non-traditional marketing through sponsoring extreme sports athletes, influencers and events to attract younger consumers.
  3. Innovation and provenance of benefits: Early adopters of emerging drinks fads have successfully tapped into the rapid growth they bring and the creation of drinks with proven or accredited health benefits and, as a result, stand apart from others in the market.