Coca-Cola's foray into the energy drink market has come to an end. Coke has announced that it is discontinuing its signature Coca-Cola flavored energy drink (aptly named "Coca-Cola Energy") after disappointing sales in domestic and international markets. Coca-Cola Energy had the unfortunate luck of being launched in early 2020 (with a big PR push during Super Bowl 2020) mere weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entire world to go on lockdown. As Coke's internal studies found, consumers were in a "stick to what you know" mindframe when stocking up on food and drink essentials during the pandemic, which meant very few Coca-Cola drinkers were willing to explore the new product.
In a larger breakdown by Beverage Digest, it seems that stores were quick to adapt to the change in market demands from consumers during the pandemic, pushing established and popular "essential" products to the forefront (and in bulk) for buyers to acquire with ease and convenience. Similarly, convenience stores and gas station markets (the beachheads of the billion-dollar energy drink business) saw massive drop-offs in foot traffic during the pandemic, meaning that lane of business wasn't feasible during the critical time window for Coca-Cola to promote awareness of its new product. Finally, there's the common-sense conclusion that with most consumers staying at home the primary need for energy drinks as a whole (fueling on-the-go workers and commuters) was not nearly as much of a necessity during the pandemic.
Even as the pandemic subsides and consumers resume more normal patterns of buying, sales of Coca-Cola Energy reportedly did not experience an upswing - in fact, quite the opposite. Coca-Cola Energy sales reportedly slumped more than 50% in Q1 of 2021.
In many ways, Coca-Cola Energy stands alongside Quibi as a business that saw an otherwise would-be successful launch crash and burn almost solely due to the once-in-a-lifetime conditions of a global pandemic. Coca-Cola Energy will now stay on sale until supply is exhausted in US Markets; it will remain on sale as a "regional brand" in select markets like Europe.
It's got to be a serious hit for Coca-Cola, as the company invested untold millions into developing and marketing the product, as well as legal fees just to sell it. Coke has a stake in Monster Energy drink, which led to a court battle over Coke releasing a competing energy drink, and eventual arbitration win to launch Coca-Cola Energy. Ironically, that stake in Monster is now turning into a boon for Coke, as Coca-Cola Energy crashes and burns; Monster saw a sales boost of nearly 20% in Q1 this year.