With the average American studying and working longer hours, there is a demand for energy drinks like never before. Red Bull, Monster and a handful of brands had dominated the market for too long, but luckily there are a plethora of startup brands coming into the fray.

What goes into an energy drink?

One of the primary aspects in making the best energy drink to keep you awake is creating the best formula, and efficiently sourcing the ingredients. In general, vitamins and caffeine powder are very cheap when bought in bulk, so it’s not the main thing impacting your profit margin.

Vitamin B6, B3 (niacin) and other B vitamins are prevalent components within leading energy drink brands, with more emphasis on niacin. While the potency of B vitamins for energy can be questionable, niacin is particularly useful for increasing the metabolism of carbohydrates, whether it’s from food or the drink itself.

Taurine is the most popular amino acid in energy drinks due to its enhanced mental performance. While it's produced in our bodies and found in meat, particularly deficient people (like a vegetarian) will feel its effects strongly.

To a lesser degree, creatine is also making its way into niche energy drinks, but it's more marketable towards athletes or gym-goers. In theory, it helps supply more energy to the muscles, making workouts longer and/or more intense.

Sugar is a fast-acting carbohydrate that will accelerate one’s energy boost, but considering the general population is trying to diet down, calorie-free sweeteners will go a long way. This can be in the form of stevia, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium. Not all sweeteners are the same when mixing with other flavors, so experimentation is key in that regard.

A prominent feature of Liquid Help Energy is its sugar-free formula.

A mix of natural or artificial flavors will also need to be considered within the drink to mask the overpowering taste of vitamin powders. Citrus or tropical fruit flavors are ideal and are becoming trendy.

The Level of Competition in the Energy Drink Business

Few niches don’t have competition, and with the help of internet marketing, the competition is rather tight for energy drink manufacturers. This means you will either have to compete at a local level or be more creative on how you do marketing.

Narrowing down your target audience into more specific niches helps, and you’d be surprised how many tribes of people are out there. Some have appealed to the convenience factor by making shots, and some have created more decadent products. Even far-out ideas, like an energy drink marketed towards vegans or Paleo dieters, wouldn’t necessarily be an insane idea.

Increasing and maintaining your brand, whether online or otherwise, is always important, so your marketing budget could be higher than the cost of production. While it seems old-fashioned, there is value in sending out introductory letters to supermarkets, restaurants, gyms, and any other business where you might want your beverage to be sold.

You may even end up fronting your product in some places to get your foot in the door, but if you have a solid formula, it could go a long way.

Final Thoughts

While the energy drink business isn’t the most complicated in the world, there is still a chance for failure and losing your investment. It would be advisable to hire an expert in the beverage industry that can guide you in the right direction in terms of marketing and how to go through any bureaucratic processes. While I can’t guarantee you will be squaring off against Red Bull, there is still a decent amount of money to be made for small-scale brands.