TRENDBITE: Why natural energy is still buzzing

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What is the ‘natural energy’ trend?

In the functional drink space, natural energy drinks differ from traditional energy drinks as they are marketed towards specific functional benefits such as enhanced cognitive focus, improved mood, enhanced hydration or even better athletic performance. This is achieved using natural, plant-based ingredients like ginseng, beetroot or L-theanine for their potential health benefits.

Natural energy drinks don’t contain any artificial ingredients, such as sweeteners like aspartame, synthetic colours or artificial flavours. Instead of relying solely on synthetic caffeine, naturally occurring caffeine sources like green tea extract or guarana are perceived as providing a more sustained energy boost. These products also often contain matcha to further boost health credentials, appealing to consumers seeking wellbeing products that support active lifestyles.

Why is it trending?

Since 2021, the health and wellness trend has been one of the most influential for consumers in the food and beverage industry. It is driven by a growing awareness of the potential health concerns associated with artificial ingredients and excessive caffeine in traditional energy drinks. As well as seeking natural ingredients, many consumers want lower sugar options, and natural energy drinks often contain less sugar than traditional energy drinks, or use alternative sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit.

Consumers are demanding ways to manage energy without sacrificing their physical and mental wellbeing, so they are seeking healthier and more functional alternatives that fit a more holistic health lifestyle. The pandemic also presented an innovation opportunity for the global energy drinks market, as many consumers’ priorities shifted towards health and wellness.

In its 2022 Global Soft Drinks Performance and Outlook report, GlobalData identified a “strong positive impact” on future value sales of energy drinks from consumers switching to clean-label and natural products. Many disruptor start-up brands have seized the marketing opportunity through natural ingredients and clean label claims.

Which consumers are driving the trend?

The extent to which a product impacts health and wellbeing is a driving influence for multi-generational consumers. Natural is proving to be an important product feature for Gen Z, Y, X and Boomers – clearly indicating that the desire for natural has a broad, multi-generational appeal.

Millennials are also more conscious of their health and tend to be more receptive to new and innovative products. They are also more likely to be influenced by social media and marketing campaigns that promote healthy living.

As the population ages, there is a growing demand for functional beverages that cater to specific health concerns. Natural energy drinks with added vitamins, minerals or cognitive-enhancing ingredients also appeal to an older demographic.

Where might it go on the future?

According to a 2022 Better Marketing report by Mintel, 23% of global energy drink launches carried a ‘natural’ claim, in response to 55% of global consumers who find natural claims ‘very appealing’. The natural energy drink trend is evolving, but from a demand perspective, it is still a growing market, as different age groups and genders are demanding healthier and more functional alternatives to traditional energy drinks.

Want more?

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