Standing out as the “star performer” in volume growth and dollar sales is energy—"the need state for energy with consumers is pretty high,” Hemphill said. “In some ways, companies and marketers may have just scratched the surface of demand.”

Energy drinks grew 14.6% in dollars and 8.8% in units in c-stores in 2023, according to data from market research firm Circana.

The subset of performance energy, which includes brands like Reign and Bang (now owned by Monster), has helped grow the category the last several years, Hemphill said.

“Most of the big brands have introduced products that feed into that subset, and that’s helped grow the category,” he said. “With any category, particularly the ones performing well, you’ll find they have meaningful innovation—and energy drinks have managed to do that, and sports drinks is doing that with the rapid-hydration concept.”

Another innovation is more flavors, Triantafellou said, adding he expects Red Bull to expand its flavor portfolio because “they see that consumers are looking for flavor or low calorie.” For the first time this year, Red Bull will introduce a sugar-free version, he said.

Functional energy has taken off at Weigel’s. “We’ve had fantastic growth with Alani Nu and Celsius and Reign Storm and all these other products—and the energy is in that growth as well,” Triantafellou said.