6 December 2017

Nigeria: Energy Drinks Producers Battle Consumers' Health Concerns

Energy drink producers are now positioning their products based on product innovation and repackaging at backdrop of rising concern over consumers' health.

The health concern has to do with the sugar and alcohol content, as well as caffeine content, a chemical believed to be responsible for increased risk of heart disease due to the significant impact it has on a consumer's blood pressure and stress hormones.

Consequently, the brands are now claiming to have reduced these seemingly offensive concerns. But despite the reductions the products have remained in controversy due to their cardiovascular risk, as the producers have not deemed it necessary to warn consumers or even state the composition of the chemicals in their products labellings.

To compound the issues, experts say there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales in Nigeria by food authorities, which has led to some deaths as a result of overdose in some cases. The demand for the products is said to be growing as a result of rising population and increased marketing appeals to sensual benefits. Also, number of energy drinks in the market is increasing correspondingly.

Product innovation and repackaging taking place in the energy drink market has also forced the producers to bring the products closer to consumers, through the direct marketing approach, as well as adopting the in-door display methods in stores to attract consumers' patronage.

The producers have also adopted event sponsorship to connect the products with the consumers, for example, Redbull, Monster Energy sponsorship of extreme sports like Mountain climbing, MotoGP to a few others, and Power Horse sponsorship of seminars and some other sports events.

Most of the brands that dominated the market and spurred competition are imported.

Some of such products with heavy presence in the market are Redbull, produced by Lisa company, Austria, Power Horse, manufactured by S. Spitz GmbH, Austria, Monster Energy, produced by Hansan Natural company, USA, Shark, manufactured by Osotspa Company Limited, Japan.

Others include Hero energy mint, Hot kiss, Hell, Sparks, AMP, Energy to mention but a few that have helped to raise competition in the market.

Of these numbers, Redbull, Power Horse, Monster Energy, Shark and Hot kiss have emerged top of the mind products according to consumers' preference rating.

Red Bull has the highest market share of the energy drinks in the Nigerian market according to distributors' sales book cited by VanguardCompanies & Markets, C&M. The C&M, findings show that most of the producers have also started displacing middlemen, including distributors by delivering the products to the retailers with their distribution vans.

C&M noticed that the strategy has helped the producers to reach the consumers faster and improved their sales margin.

Findings by C&M also show that the energy drink industry is expected to witness strong growth driven by the huge population of young people and the expansion of mass grocery retail channels in the urban areas. Consumers have their likes for the brands. Some consumers prefer the brands for their smell, smoothness, alcoholic or non-alcoholic content, and non presence of caffeine. Price is not usually major consideration in buying decision since the prices are relatively in close range.

Consumers' responses

Most consumers who responded to questions on their preferences favouredRedbull and Power Horse followed byMonster Energy.

But the reason most of them gave was because these brands are readily available at roadside stores as well as superstores.

However, a consumer, Andrew Ojelu, said he prefers Power Horse because it gives him the satisfaction he needs in an energy drink. "The taste and smoothness in the mouth gives satisfaction," he stated. Another consumer, Michael Nok, stated that he is a loyalist of Redbull, prefers it to other energy drinks, due to its advert, "Redbull gives you wings." A superstore attendant, at ShopDirect, from her observation said Power Horse, Redbull and Monster Energy are doing better than others in the shop.

A distributor, who claimed to sometimes supply some of the superstores, said the three brands are leading the market.

Expert speaks

Experts say a research by the Mayo Clinic published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that drinking around 450ml worth of an energy drink significantly increases a person's blood pressure and stress hormone responses, which could in turn increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

Confirming the above, a medical practitioner in Lagos who does not want his name in print, said: "Until now, we haven't known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the functioning of the heart. There are concerns about the products' potential adverse side effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but I think there should be proper regulation of energy drink sales."

He also stated: "Highly-caffeinated energy drinks, even those containing no alcohol, may pose significant threat to individuals and public health." No responses from marketers of the brands as at the time of filling this report.

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