ZOA, the top-selling new energy drink introduced in the U.S. in 2021, is eyeing a strong start to 2022 with the release of two new flavors, White Peach and Tropical Punch.
By adding two of the fastest-growing flavors in the energy-drink category, ZOA is finessing its portfolio with a focus on zero-sugar drinks, says Ron Worrell, senior portfolio manager for ZOA.
“Based on customer feedback and sales numbers, it’s clear what the consumer choice has been. Close to 70% of our volume is based in zero-sugar flavors,” he says. “You can’t deny what the consumer is telling you.”
Across the category, zero-sugar offerings are driving growth as health-minded consumers seek beverages they perceive as "better for you," such as those made with natural ingredients and reduced sugar, Worrell says.
“Consumers are taking a good, hard look at what they put in their bodies,” he says. “Across the category, the growth has been with zero sugar. That is the future direction of this category.”
ZOA, which is marketed and distributed by Molson Coors Beverage Company, burst onto the scene in the spring with the backing of its celebrity founder, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, arguably the biggest movie star in the world.
Johnson’s influence has helped ZOA more the double its sales from mid-July, bringing in around $3.4 million for the last four weeks that ended Oct. 31, far exceeding the results of other new entrants, according to IRI multi-outlet and convenience store data.
The positive reception from consumers has made it one of the top 15 energy drinks in the U.S. and the top seller among new entrants in 2021. With the addition of the two new sugar-free flavors, ZOA discontinued two of its flavors made with sugar, Original and Lemon Lime.
Worrell says ZOA aims to be in 70,000 retail locations by the end of 2022, including 22,000 new locations in the first quarter. That includes displays in more than 3,000 Walmart locations, as well as in chains such as 7-Eleven, Kroger, Circle K and Albertsons. To date, ZOA can be found in more than 30,000 retail stores across the U.S., Worrell says.
While ZOA is launched only in 16-ounce single-serve cans, the brand is looking to introduce consumers to multi-packs with the addition of four-pack 12-ounce slim cans in 2022.
“The four-pack is one of the fastest-growing packs in the category, and the 12-ounce slim can is popular with female drinkers,” Worrell says.
And later in the year, it’s eyeing with an international expansion outside of the U.S.
“This is an important year. It’s the first full year of ZOA’s existence,” Worrell says. “We came into 2021 midstream, but this year we’re looking to get on the shelf quickly and really build awareness of the brand.”
The keys to unlocking consumer awareness? Scaling distribution, eye catching displays and Dwayne Johnson.
"He’s not just a celebrity endorser, he’s a full partner. His tattoo is literally on the can,” Worrell says. "It doesn’t get much bigger than that.”