Staying fit and active remain long-term priorities among U.S. consumers. Evolving health trends continue to influence consumption patterns within nearly every food and beverage category. One of the biggest testaments to this is the explosive popularity of performance energy drinks. This emerging beverage segment provides manufacturers with new opportunities to expand, but also poses a threat to well-established categories, particularly sports drinks.
COVID-19 impact on sports and energy drinks
In the short to mid-term, the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to stagnating growth of performance energy due to shifting consumer habits. Sports drinks are expected to outperform previous estimates as immediate health concerns lead consumers to seek out the category’s hydration benefit. Looking ahead, performance energy sales are expected to return to growth as the U.S. begins to recover, while sports drinks will continue to grow past previous expectations.
Energy drinks outpace sports drinks
Sales growth of energy drinks has outpaced sports drinks in the U.S. since 2017, according to Euromonitor International. Now, performance energy brands are direct competitors to sports drinks. Though also benefiting from the growing fitness culture, sports drinks have been unable to keep up due to comparatively limited functionality.
Soft drink industry challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented hurdle for the soft drinks industry. Foodservice closures, an economic downturn and rapid changes in consumer behavior left many categories unevenly affected. Though sports and performance energy drinks appeal to the same consumers, sports drinks are now being looked to for general hydration, which is giving the category a boost.
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Aga Jarzabek is a research analyst at Euromonitor International, specializing in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and tobacco. In her role, Aga researches trends within these industries in the U.S. market, analyzing shifting consumer trends, competitive landscapes, and category outlooks and forecasts. She is a key contributor to Passport, Euromonitor International’s syndicated research database.