Probiotics and Natural Energy Drinks: A Growing Culture

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According to a report from Zion Market Research, the global probiotics market is expected to generate revenue of around USD 65.87 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a CAGR of around 7.35% between 2018 and 2024. Of the hugely popular energy drinks industry, The Grocer reports those brands which ‘play on natural credentials’ are seeing the greatest success of all.

These are certainly two industries to watch closely, so we cast our onefourzero eye over the data, to establish exactly how this growth is playing out with consumers.


We found that the demand around probiotic drinks has increased, as the general consumer trend of being health conscious spreads. While the growth of generic searches for probiotic drinks is slowing down, specific products, such as Kombucha, have witnessed a fast rise over the past four years. Indeed, of all the probiotic-related search terms we looked at, Kombucha has seen the most substantial growth, with 333,560 searches in 2015 rising to 1,290,190 in 2018.

Interestingly, searches for kefir (a cultured, fermented milk drink) boomed in February 2017, simultaneous to the publication of several articles on the topic, particularly regarding its use by celebrities.

When we looked at specific probiotic drinks brands, we saw that the most dramatic increase in search volume comes from Kevita, 3,330 searches in 2015 grew to 12,930 in 2018. Industry brand stalwart, Yakult, reflects its dominant market share on search, growing consistently, whilst Suja has plummeted, with year-on-year decreases in traffic marking a stark contrast against the competition.

Whilst Yakult continues to dominate, with brand awareness high since the 1990s, its growth – along with that of other dairy-based probiotic drinks like kefir – is not as sharp as tea-based probiotics. Yakult may be consistently growing in search volume, but the number of searches for  Kombucha dwarfs Yakult’s, at 1,290,190 versus 302,770 respectively. This, however, is far from a death knell for Yakult – the high number of searches for Kombucha simply reflects nascent consumer knowledge. Consumers are still searching Kombucha to find out more about it, whilst they already know all they need to about well-established Yakult.

The key takeaway here is the marked rise in search volume across most branded and generic probiotic terms, reflecting a cultural shift towards health consciousness and awareness. Online sentiment supports this, with a consistent rise in total mentions of these terms since 2015 (3,843 in 2015; 8,241 in 2018). In terms of the sort of conversations we observed, we saw that people tend to briefly mention specific probiotic drinks (e.g. kefir) when talking about the diet that they are on.

Negative mentions are far outweighed by positive and neutral conversations about probiotics. Where negative mentions do take place, we observed that they are not directly linked to probiotics – more simply complaining about health problems, with probiotics being mentioned as a solution rather than a cause.

Natural Energy Drinks

Search for natural energy drinks has been on a constant upward trend. This is correlated to a growing focus on health and more coverage around the dangers of standard energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster.

Natural energy drinks, Tenzing and Lift, have become dramatically more popular on search. Lift saw 195.7% growth in search volume between 2017 and 2018 (4,820 – up from 1,630). Tenzing’s search volume grew from 23,710 in 2017 to 62,090 – a 161.9% increase. 

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As expected in an industry of health-related products, the general sentiment in social media conversations around natural energy drinks is positive. Conversation levels are low, and in general do not portray a continuous growth over the past four years, but rather an erratic evolution. This is  probably related to launches of new natural energy drinks that generate conversations which quickly die down.

New launches are, indeed, happening at a growing rate. In May, the owner of Vita Coco unveiled ‘clean energy’ drink Runa. Fellow natural brand Yusa relaunched in June. Both get its energy from ‘super leaf’ guayusa. Chemical-free brand Xite Energy, which launched in 2018, has just launched its first national listing in Holland & Barrett

Established brands are also benefiting from increased interest in natural energy drinks. Purdey’s saw the largest percentage gain in value of all the top 10 energy drink brands – up 35.2% to £12.5m between 2018 and 2019.

To sum up…

According to the National Marketing Institute’s Supplement OTC Rx Database (SORD) 2015, consumers are gaining awareness of probiotics, with 20% surveyed reporting they do not feel that they are getting enough in their diets. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers showed the greatest desire for having probiotics integrated into their diets. This was back in 2015 and, as our data analysis shows, awareness and interest has skyrocketed since then.

Even though the use of the word ‘probiotic’, on packaging or marketing materials, has been banned in the EU, because of the fact that no specific health claims have been permitted by the European Food Safety Authority in relation to any probiotics, the retail value of probiotic supplements has also grown at a steady pace. There are other ways, after all, to sell probiotics without using the word on the packaging. You could, just as easily, say ‘contains beneficial live cultures’ without falling foul. 

Is it a phase? We anticipate not. Demand, exposure and purchasing is only likely to grow as we become ever-more health conscious as consumers. And eventually, the EFSA will receive admissible proof of the health benefits of probiotics and the ban will be lifted, opening the doors to even more aggressive marketing. Such proof will be forthcoming; it is only held back by strict regulatory dynamics in how approval is granted. It’s also worth bearing in mind that ‘probiotics’ is a general term which describes a whole host of different bacteria strains. This is another reason for the delay in getting that ban lifted.

As for those natural energy drinks: again – all looks rosy. Health consciousness is not going away, and considering that damaging reports of the dangers of standard energy drinks are so prevalent, natural drink market dominance is assured before long. The growth of Purdy’s is a good example of this.

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