Three signs indicate energy drinks are no longer the alternative upstarts that once turned the beverage world on its ear:

1. The category stands as the second largest in c-stores in terms of both volume and dollar sales, firmly establishing it as part of the status quo. Some retailers are even reporting that energy drinks are outselling CSDs in their stores.

2. There was a time when retailers could count on energy drinks for double-digit growth year over year. That time is now three years in the past. In 2017, volume sales grew just ­1.2%, according to IRI. But as the second-largest category in c-stores, that single-digit growth is quite welcome.

3. Energy drinks debuted in and came of age in convenience stores. But as manufacturers strive to reach more consumers, market share is growing in other channels of retail—at the expense of c-stores. While about 50% of all energy-drink sales happen in convenience stores, according to Hemphill, other channels are catching up. In 2017, the category grew 4.7% across all channels, more than triple the growth in c-stores.


1.2%: Volume growth of energy drinks in c-stores in 2017, compared to 4.7% growth in all retail channels, according to IRI