What Does the Sports Drinks Category Look Like? Guest Insight with NOCCO

A huge proportion of today’s shoppers have no interest sugary sports drinks and actively choose functional products with no added, or zero, sugar to supplement their lifestyles. There’s many excellent products that are better for you or low in sugar, and these options are an essential for any retailer looking to elevate their drinks fridge.

Consumers as ever, are looking for innovation and new formats. New emerging brands are the antidote to the standard drinks fridge shoppers are bored with. Embracing the new wave of energy and soft drinks, as well as health boosting ranges, is critical to success in the convenience sector.


Evolution of Sports Drinks

Sports drinks have been undergoing a transformation for the last several years, with more brands and SKUs incorporating functional ingredients in their formulations. Now, this functional drinks trend is seeing further evolution in the form of hybrid functional drinks. While sports drinks have been trending toward “better for you” claims for years, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this change.

While some analysts predicted last year that the sports drinks market would take a sales hit, analysts agree that the categories fundamentals remain stronger than initially forecasted. An e-commerce boost appears to have mitigated some of the drop in brick-and-mortar sales, and interest in functional beverages has grown since the start of the pandemic. Even after 2020’s unprecedented challenges, the sports drinks market in 2021 will likely offer opportunities for brands that can innovate and pivot.

With organised sports and gyms around the country unavailable for a significant portion of the year, more people are searching for ways to take their health into their own hands. This includes seeking additional health benefits from their usual drinking habits. So what exactly is the right type of energy drink for today's consumer?

Some of the trends that emerged in 2020 are likely here to stay. Ahead, we look at some sports drinks market changes which experts predict could further unfold this year. To help explain these category and trend insights, here's opinion from John Thorpe, Channel Manager at NOCCO.


What is NOCCO and Why Should Retailers Stock It?

"NOCCO is a tasty, functional energy drink created by the Swedish-developed No Carbs Company. All flavours contain BCAA’s (these are branched-chain-amino-acids), 6 different vitamins, 180mg of caffeine and are sugar free, vegan and approved by Informed Sport. NOCCO is a product for everyone, which is why we get regular requests for more retail availability.

Unlike other brands emerging in this category, NOCCO has a huge, loyal fanbase within the sports and fitness world, with current availability in over 2,500 gym fridges in the UK alone. Now more than ever, retailers should be looking for additional opportunities to drive revenue as business re-opens. With the existing demand and the fact that NOCCO offers an incremental sales opportunity within soft drinks, retailers should have the confidence that it perform well in their stores.

In 2020, NOCCO was the fastest growing brand within energy across total market. NOCCO was also the 3rd biggest value contributor to the category behind Red Bull and Monster. Although now available in over 3,000 stores in the UK, the above performance is with less distribution and less SKU’s than most brands within energy. A credible brand that offer retailers a true point of difference! (Nielsen - GB Total Coverage – 2020 – % change value vs year ago)


Changing Consumer Habits

In the last few years, functional energy has emerged as a big driver for category growth within soft drinks. More brands are trying to find a way to combine functional ingredients such as BCAA’s and vitamins with traditional energy ingredients, whilst maintaining a satisfying taste… NOCCO has been doing that since 2014!

With gyms having been closed for the majority of the last 12 months, consumers are taking their health and well-being into their own hands, by improving their eating and drinking habits. This new sub-category is offering retailers a point of difference in their ranges and therefore a clear incremental sales opportunity. Within energy, NOCCO is performing way ahead of total market growth: NOCCO +91% Total Market 5.3% (Nielsen - GB Total Coverage – Last 52 weeks – WE 16th January 2021 - % change value vs year ago)

Even before COVID-19, we had started to notice a switch in consumer habits in terms of making healthier choices at the checkout. Throughout 2020 that has intensified even further, and we saw the rise of the conscious-drinker audiences who are greatly influenced by how a brand might impact their health and well-being.

A recent report from The Grocer predicts that drink products claiming to improve energy levels will gain ground in 2021. So, now, more than ever, we are likely to see a desire for consumers to search for healthier, low sugar alternatives when shopping, especially with more people educating themselves on healthy ingredients such as BCAA’s and vitamins. Another very good article by Nutritional Outlook talks about the evolution of functional drinks and how that is likely to continue in 2021


Looking Ahead in 2021

Throughout 2021, NOCCO will continue to engage our core consumers through sampling and events. Furthermore, we will be able to showcase athletes at the 2021 Olympics as well as other national sporting events like the 6 Nations. We will step change our brand activation going into the summer months, which will be supported with new flavours.

With an increasing presence in retail, it’s important that we now concentrate on activities that link up our core consumers with our ever-growing retail availability.

At NOCCO, we are very excited about the prospect of the world opening up again, and as footfall in stores increases, we expect another big shift in consumer buying habits, that will see healthier drinks like NOCCO thrive in a retail environment.


Ordering NOCCO with Epicurium

Is it time your drinks range was elevated to meet this new consumer demand?  As experts in healthy and trending drinks, the team at Epicurium offer a carefully curated range of the best healthier drinks for retailers – from sure fire hits to some of the freshest new brands on the market. Independent brands are stealing a march on the more established brand names, driven by authenticity, meeting the hottest trends and a strong online brand presence.

NOCCO is the perfect range for any retailer looking to upgrade their energy drinks category to match today's consumer trends.

With a quick turnaround of 24-48 hours, no minimum order number and free delivery on any order over £80, our team here at Epicurium can have you tapping into the most on trend confectionery ranges in no time.



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