By Jackson Okoth
John Makumbi, a 35-year old sales executive with a leading transport firm says he will drink anything with the word "energy" on the can.
Last year, he started taking an energy drink every mornings. At first, Makumbi was sceptical it would actually give him more energy. "I'm pumped or something. I'm awake. It's a good feeling," says Makumbi as he struggles to explain how this energy drink makes him feel.
Makumbi is part of a growing market that companies in the energy drinks market are struggling to capture. "We target people who do not like energy lulls on any busy day, are constantly in motion and want a drink that will give them energy when they need it," says Liz Gichangi, brand manager GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) consumer division.
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A traditional player in the energy drinks market, GSK has been running a Sh10 million marketing campaign to popularise the Lucozade brand in an effort to protect its market share. Lucozade is facing stiff competition from Red Bull, Burn, Malta Guinness, M-150, B-52, Bullet and Vigor among a long list of other local or imported brands.
"We are leveraging on the fact that unlike the competition, we have a variant for all energy states whether one is sick, exercising or having fun," says Gichangi.
Growth and popularity
Available figures indicate that energy drinks take up about 0.5 per cent of the beverages market and is growing. Its worth is estimated at about Sh500 million.
Players say growth and popularity of such sports activities as athletics, football and rugby as well as the mushrooming of gymnasiums are key factors driving the energy drinks market.
In recent months, competitors in the market have been revising their budgets to maintain their visibility. This trend has seen the relaunch of East African Breweries Limited Malta Guinness and the entry of Burn as well as other imported brands.
To shore up its market share, Lucozade has invested in a multi-million shilling campaign that includes sponsorship marketing and other above the line promotions as it defends its turf. This is informed by the growing middle-class, which has taken up sports and want to use specialist sports nutrition products to improve their performance.
GSK has various Lucozade activations, currently running under the theme campaign of energising Kenyans. These include a blood drive programme in conjunction with Kenya Red Cross, a hospital programme where we have a nurse who visits patients in various hospitals around Nairobi, consoles them and gives the patients a 200ml Lucozade Bottle to help them recover, a carrier bag, get well card and t-shirt.