Originally marketed to athletes, and then almost exclusively to young people, the energy supplements category is moving rapidly into the mainstream. US sales of products marketed on an energy platform, specifically energy bars, energy drinks, and liquid/powder protein drinks, advanced from US$2bn in 1998 to $5bn in 2003, and are projected by Mintel to reach $8bn in 2008.

Mintel expects that the rapid growth in the energy supplements market in 1998 – 2003 will give way to merely strong growth in the next five years as this relatively young market matures.  Protein drinks will see incremental growth as they continue to evolve towards all-purpose lifestyle products, and away from being strictly for athletes and dieters.  The energy bar segment contains the most room for growth, because it is the easiest to market to wide ranges of the population.

Energy products appeal to a growing number of consumers as consumption reached 36% in January 2004, compared to 28% in December 2001, according to Mintel’s exclusive consumer research.  Consumer interest across the range of the energy supplement category has risen due to products being in sync with cultural trends towards fitness and health awareness, as well as on-the-go lifestyles.

Younger adults and athletes still form a core consumer group for the category, but older consumers are quickly adopting the newer protein drinks and energy bars.  Much of this new acceptance has come from new product formulation breakthroughs precisely at a time when older adults were looking for healthier foods and beverages.  The emergence and continued growth of the energy supplements market since 1998 has been driven by the increase in the pace of modern life. Customers see themselves as active, busy, and under-rested, which encourages consumption of energy supplements – especially because many of these products provide noticeable short-term energy boosts.

Nearly 30% of Americans say they believe that vitamin and mineral fortified products such as energy supplements are a better way to eat a balanced diet than taking vitamins and minerals in pill form.