The launch in a major EU market is interesting, given recent analyst hints that – speaking of its US business – Monster could prosper by moving more into the general carbonated soft drinks space.
In August 2013 Monster Beverage Corporation CEO Rodney Sacks told investors and analysts that zero-calorie offer Monster Energy Ultra Zero owed its huge success in the US to “much more of a soft drink, easy-to-drink flavour that is light – it’s not as filling” compared with standard Monster Energy.
Wells Fargo Securities noted this June that energy drinks continue to win shelf space at the expense of diet CSDs in the US – with Monster Ultra Zero leading the pack.
'Refreshing soda and Monster's trademark energy'
Monster first launched Monster Assault in the EMEA, and distributor CCE said of the drink today: “It features a blend of refreshing soda and Monster’s trademark energy, offering a new option to consumers, helping to drive incremental growth of the Monster Energy portfolio.”
Caroline Cater, operational marketing director at CCE, said: “Product innovation is the key driver within the energy drinks sector, helping to increase consumer choice while maximising incremental growth.
“Monster Assault builds on the recent Rehab innovation with Energy+Tea and opens up a new opportunity for retailers,” she added. Monster/CCE seem committed to bolstering what we might dub the 'energy+' proposition, opening-up the brand to new consumer demographics and consumption occasions by crossing categories.
Euromonitor International beverage analyst Jonas Feliciano told this website that Monster, and to a lesser extent Rockstar, were the major innovators behind a trend that has seen energy products move beyond their traditional heartland in recent years, although Red Bull had responded with its editions line.
'Consumers want beverages that do more than just hydrate': Euromonitor analyst
"Along with Ultra Zero (and the flavour extensions of Ultra Zero including Blue, Red and soon, Black) Monster had what I thought was one of the most interesting products on the market with Rehab, a combination energy/recovery/hydration beverage that was low calorie and non-carbonated," Feliciano said.
"We’re seeing so much in terms of energy+, as you put it," the analyst added. "V8 Fusion+Energy, AriZona’s Arnold Palmer Drive, all the water enhancers with energy functionality – I even spotted private label powdered concentrates with energy (like Crystal Light + energy but in private label form).
"I think this all just speaks to the broader trend that consumers want their beverages to do more than hydrate – it should have a function as well as taste great," Feliciano said.
Monster/CCE's other new UK product launch is a special edition designed to appeal to motor sports fans, a citrus-flavored Monster Energy blend called ‘The Doctor’ in a bright yellow can, dedicated to rider Valentino Rossi.
Valentino Rossi special editon: The Doctor
A result of Monster’s partnership with the MotoGP series, the drink will be available in select wholesale, convenience and fuel channels throughout the MotoGP season, while Rossi (provided he manages any podium finishes) will display the can at the end of races.
CCE said today that Monster Energy posted 17% growth in the last year – the company cited Nielsen data - outpacing the wider UK energy drinks sector by over 100%.
Despite the strength of carbonates in the UK soft drinks market - they held a 44.8% market share last year - volume sales rose by only 0.9% to 6.5bn liters in 2013, although value rose 2.5% to £8.925bn, according to Zenith International statistics.
Energy saw stronger 5% volume growth last year, albeit from a lower base, to 500m liters, while value grew 2% to £1.43bn due to fierce price competition.