Sports Drinks Aren't Just For Sports Anymore

United States

Mintel Consumer Intelligence reports that the popularity of sports and energy drinks in the US is on the rise, especially among teenagers.

Sports drinks are now commonly considered beverages that can be consumed any time of the day, Mintel found, with 60 per cent of American adults and 75 per cent of teenagers viewing sports drinks as beverages they can drink in the same way they would drink juice, soft drinks or water, and not just after physical activity. About half of the adults surveyed said they had consumed sports drinks, compared with 79 per cent of teenagers.

The increase in the number of sports drinks on the market had led to consumers looking more avidly for novelty and variety in the sports beverages they purchase. Teenagers are more likely to recognise different benefits across brands than adults.

Mintel found that new flavours and enhanced water products are blurring the line between bottled water and sports drinks. It predicted these newer products would further broaden the appeal of sports drinks, in both use of existing products and in helping introduce new consumers (especially women) to sports drinks.

Although starting from an unsubstantial base, female teenagers were seen as a group with potential for strong growth. They responded more positively than teenage boys to the range of new flavours that hit the market in 2001-02.

Mintel estimates the retail market for sports drinks will near $3 billion in 2002, an eight per cent increase over 2001, and rising to $4.1 billion by 2007.

In the EU, meanwhile, a legislative proposal would mandate energy drinks such as Red Bull to carry the term "high caffeine content" on their labels in the same field of vision as the name of the product. This proposal, which is not expected to become law until at least mid-2004, applies to drinks that contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre.

The new law would not apply to tea and coffee drinks, whose generic name already implies a high caffeine content.

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