G Fuel, a powdered energy drink brand that was a first-mover in the growing world of e-sports, is ready to launch a carbonated ready-to-drink version, said Founder and CEO Cliff Morgan. The drink will meet a growing call from the brand’s fans for an RTD option. “Timing is everything,” Morgan said. “We wanted to make sure we had enough brand strength where the product could turn and not just sit on a shelf.” Packaged in 16-oz cans, the product will compete with brands such as Monster, Red Bull and PepsiCo’s closely named Mtn Dew Game Fuel, which have flooded into the world of competitive video gaming and the social-media driven community around the sport. G Fuel says it already has built a loyal following among gamers since launching a powdered drink in 2012. Having trademarked itself as the “official energy drink” of e-sports, the brand lists several high-profile endorsers including social media megastar Pewdiepie. He currently boasts the highest-ever number of YouTube subscribers at about 89.5 million. G Fuel’s celebrity roster includes professional e-sports organization Faze Clan, which has attracted 5.8 million Youtube subscribers. All told, G Fuel estimates its online reach at more than 200 million people. G Fuel’s RTD offering may help the company extend its position as e-sports’ popularity grows. The canned version will launch online in June before moving to retail. Morgan said he is targeting convenience stores and Walmart, among other retailers.
Pivot. Morgan founded the business in 2004 with a pre-workout nutrition supplement sold at retailers such as GNC. In 2012 he pivoted to an e-sports focus after his marketing manager, a gamer, suggested they promote the fitness drink at game rental shops, which immediately boosted sales. Morgan reformulated the powder, named the product G Fuel and moved to an online-only sales model. “The younger generation and just consumers in general are ready for the natural evolution of energy drinks,” he said. E-sports has helped the company grow from less than $3 million in annual revenue to a run rate of more than $40 million this year, Morgan said. Growth during the first eight weeks of this year was about +150%, he also said. G Fuel ships its powders to 125 countries.
Esports Growth. Like professional ball sports, e-sport matches feature professional gaming teams competing in front of live audiences in stadiums and for even broader audiences online or on television. In an October report, Goldman Sachs estimated the e-sports audience will reach 276 million by 2022, which is on par with today’s NFL audience. The firm further estimated that annual revenue from e-sports will grow to $3 billion by then, up from $655 million in 2017. About 35% of that revenue will come from sponsorships as mainstream companies (including beverage makers such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Keurig Dr Pepper) increasingly tap into e-sports’ youthful audience. Much of the recent e-sports-related growth, including among mainstream gamers, has been driven by Epic Games’ Fortnite. Goldman Sachs said the survival game has reached more than 125 million players across multiple formats.
Details. The RTD version of G Fuel Energy Formula will launch in four flavors — Fazeberry, Blue Ice, Sour Cherry and Rainbow Sherbert – in keeping with a trend toward whimsical fruity flavors being pushed by energy category challengers such as Bang (Rainbow Unicorn). Pricing hasn’t yet been determined and will be competitive with other brands in the space, the company said. Marketing and packaging will tout “energy and focus” for video gamers by way of a “unique” and “proprietary” blend of caffeine (300-mg from unroasted coffee beans) and the amino acid L-tyrosine. Other ingredients include exogenous ketones (said to promote mental and physical performance) and the amino acid L-theanine (said to improve alertness). The drink also will contain an antioxidant blend made from green coffee, green tea and turmeric extracts, as well as cherries, blueberries, broccoli and kale. Unlike G Fuel powder, which contains 25-calories per serving, the canned version will contain no calories and be sugarless. Sweeteners will be sucralose and acesulfame potassium (ace-K).
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