Pepsi is rebooting their Amp Energy line of energy drinks with new designs and a different focus on formulations. The change seems to be an admittance of defeat for Pepsi, which at one point had higher hopes for the brand to compete with Red Bull and Monster. While it cracked the #4 sales position in 2008, it has since fallen farther behind the leaders, now sitting below Rockstar, NOS, and Starbucks Doubleshot as well. Something had to be done.
It's notable that Pepsi has pulled the flagship Amp brand from their NASCAR sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 car, switching it for a brand that is showing growth, Diet Mountain Dew. No more Amp Energy Tradin' Paint!
Red Bull still leads the field, but Monster is close behind. With Coke now distributing Monster, Pepsi picked up distribution of Rockstar, which is a solid #3 brand. It's notable that the top 3 energy drinks are still independently owned. Coke bought Fuze, which gave them control of NOS, the #4 brand, while Pepsi's partnership with Starbucks placed Doubleshot in #5. Right below that we find the current fate of Pepsi's in-house energy drink, Amp, which at least is doing better than its Coke equivalent, Full Throttle. (Source: SymphonyIRI sales data)
When Pepsi last put a lot of focus on the Amp brand back in 2008, they launched a flurry of flavors with different functional elements thrown in. Joining the original flavor (plus its sugar free sibling) and Amp Energy Overdrive (Cherry) was Amp Energy Elevate (Mixed Berry), Amp Energy Traction (Grape), Amp Energy Relaunch (Orange). These were rounded out by a lemonade flavor, Amp Energy Lightning (along with a sugar free version). Tea was also part of the experiment, with both Amp Energy with Green Tea and Amp Energy with Black Tea joining the line. Over the years, some of those flavors just didn't make the cut, namely the two teas and Relaunch, which were phased out. We've come a long way since the original Amp branding as a sub-offering of Mountain Dew!
For 2012, it appears that Pepsi has tried to streamline the Amp Energy brand a bit with some simpler options. Gone are the "extreme" names like Overdrive and Traction. There's now a focus on 3 areas of "function": Boost, Active, and Focus. The Boost lineup seems to be your classic "energy" setup, with caffeine and B vitamins being the selling point. Here you'll find the original flavor (in the green can, still a throwback to the Mountain Dew days), Sugar Free, Cherry (formerly Overdrive), and Grape (formerly Traction).
Next up is the Active subcategory, which not only features caffeine, but also electrolytes. Here we find the new name of the Lemonade flavor (formerly Lightning) and its Sugar Free version.
The final subcategory, Focus, features just one flavor: Mixed Berry (formerly Elevate). The functional elements of caffeine, choline, and theanine are pitched to help you think better. Or something like that.
All in all, the Amp Energy lineup is now 7 core flavors, which is pretty much what it had before, now with new looks and positioning. The packaging features less busy artwork, with the color of the drink being more prominently displayed. The functional subcategories receive high billing (Boost, Active, Focus), while the actual flavor names themselves are somewhat hard to find. I'm guessing the color of the can is going to be used more to help identify that.
The functional subcategories also bring a unique pattern to the lower half of each can, each representing the shaping of a sound wave, tying into the "Amp" name. Boost shows a wave growing in intensity, Active illustrates a declining wave that then increases, and Focus has a wave building to a large point of emphasis. While not the most innovative looks, the packaging does seem to layout the Amp Energy series as individual elements that feel like part of a larger system.
Now it's up to the marketplace to decide if this brand refreshening actually translates into increased sales. What do you think?