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Coca-Cola and Monster Tie Up, Creating New Dynamics for Soda, Energy Drinks

至少現在,每個人從可口可樂的CEO Muhtar Kent與Monster的CEO Rodney Sacks到產業分析師都認為兩者的合作不尚樂觀。在交易案中,可口可樂會將旗下疲弱的能量飲料品牌包含NOS、Full Throttle、Burn、Mother、Play and Power Play與Relentless賣給Monster,而同時Monster也會其旗下的非能量飲料品牌產品—Hansen’s Natural Sodas、Peace Tea、Hubert’s Lemonade與Hansen’s Juice Product—轉讓給可口可樂,來加速Monster在美國與國際,尤其在中國的物流分配。可口可樂在北美已經為Monster的產品運送了六年。
Monster去年(2013年)的銷售量增加了9%,而其中的八成來自美國地區。根據美國飲料調查公司Beverage Digest指出,去年整個能量飲料市場的銷售量成長了超過4%。然而,可口可樂在同一時期的軟性飲料銷售量卻跌了3%,不過由於顧客對於健康意識的高漲,比如對於阿斯巴甜的使用,使得Diet Coke得到了預期外的成長。


同時,Sacks告訴分析師他很興奮於Monster終於有機會在美國以外的地區挑戰Red Bull公司。Sacks說:「中國對我們來說是一個長期的目標,我們想要以最快的速度攻進這個市場。我們能從可口可樂獲得一些東西然後像中國一樣快速成長,即使會因為當地的法律問題而需要一點時間。這是我們需要自己努力去解決的。」

在這點上,Beverage Digest的主編John Sicher相信雙方的CEO都有理由促成這次的交易。John向紐約時報表示:「這是兩家公司的一項正面而且聰明的舉動,它會強化可口可樂公司與企業的體質,而它的企業體質也能帶動Monster。」

然而,他們必須面對一項問題:能量飲料的成長速度正在趨緩。相較於碳酸飲料的銷售量正在下降,他們的銷售量雖然還在成長,速度卻已經慢下來了。根據Euromonitor數據指出,全球的能量飲料銷售成長從2011的20%,2011的11%,到去年掉到只剩下6.8%。在某個程度上,這並非是個意外的發展,而且還來得遲了。即便面對會使得消費者體重增加的疑慮,可口可樂與Pepsi有足夠的行銷資源與資金來保持產品的銷售。儘管有這些成長的警訊,Red Bull與Monster吸引能量飲料的核心市場(20幾歲的男性年輕人)的明智之舉成功地維持住成長動能。簡單來說,能量飲料是種象徵性的功能飲料,因為它能有效的提供咖啡因,但卻不能說是種有益的飲料像是最近引起可口可樂公司興趣的瓶裝水、添加維他命的水、果汁和其他的健康產品。不過他們仍然保持他們的吸引力直到最近。

能量飲料最終可能會面臨管理者與營養師對於年輕的能量飲料過度使用者可能會因此咖啡因中毒甚至死亡的關注而造成銷售阻礙。Monster與Red Bull一直以來反對在產品上標示警告標語與其他措施。一些分析師認為可口可樂對於眾多誹謗的經驗能更有效的幫助Monster的管理階層處理近期對能量飲料的批評。

除了反對這些措施以外,Monster為了訴求於對咖啡因過敏的消費者,他們正推出不含咖啡因的能量飲料—Monster Unleaded。它們公司為了拓展營養補給飲料市場而在去年推出了Muscle Monster含蛋白質飲料。


Coca-Cola and Monster Beverage seems to be a match made in beverage heaven—or is it? Taking a 17-percent stake in America's fastest-growing energy drink brand for $2.1 billon may prove far from a panacea for troubled Coke in part because energy drink sales are decelerating too.
For now, everyone from Coke CEO Muhtar Kent and Monster CEO Rodney Sacks to industry analysts seem giddy about the tie-up. Coca-Cola will give Monster its tired energy brands in the deal, including NOS, Full Throttle, Burn, Mother, Play and Power Play and Relentless, while Monster will turn over its non-energy brand products—Hansen’s Natural Sodas, Peace Tea, Hubert’s Lemonade and Hansen’s Juice Products—to Coke, which will help accelerate distribution of Monster brands in the US and abroad, especially China. Coke has carried Monster in North America for six years already.
Monster's sales increased by 9 percent last year, and 80 percent of its volume is in the US. Overall energy-drink sales increased by more than 4 percent for the industry last year, Beverage Digest said. Meanwhile, Coke's overall soft-drink sales fell 3 percent last year, and Diet Coke especially has gone into an unexpected swoon on the heels of growing consumer concern over health factors like the use of aspartame.
The deal "aligns us with a leading energy player globally, brings financial benefit to our company and our bottling partners, and supports broader commercial strategies," Kent said in a statement. On a conference call, he added, "We're impressed with Monster's performance today and are confident in Monster's ability to perform over the long term."
Meanwhile, Sacks told analysts he's excited about the possibilities for Monster finally to challenge Red Bull outside the United states. "China is a very long-term strategic goal for us—we want to be there, we want to get there as quickly as we can," Sacks said. With Coca-Cola, "We'll get something like China going pretty quickly, though it will take time because of regulatory issues there. These are the kinds of things we were struggling with on our own."
The agreement includes a clause stopping Coke from acquiring any more than 25 percent of Monster for four years unless both boards approve such a move. The CEOs declined to address possibilities such as Coca-Cola swallowing Monster whole.
At this point, Beverage Digest Editor in Chief John Sicher believes both CEOs have reason to be pleased with the deal. "It's a positive and smart move by both companies," he told the New York Times. "It will strengthen Coke and the Coke system, and the Coke system will strengthen Monster."
There might be one bee in the soda can, however: a deceleration of growth in energy-drink sales. While they're still actually growing, compared with carbonated soft-drink sales that are declining, they've been slowing. Global energy-drink sales grew by just 6.8 percent last year in dollar terms, down from 11 percent in 2012 and 20 percent in 2011, according to Euromonitor.
To an extent, this is not a surprising development—it may even be overdue. Much as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo had the marketing resources and wherewithal to keep soda sales going even in the United States long after their role in weight gain became suspect, the savvy of Red Bull and Monster in attracting the core market for energy drinks—male teenagers and twenty-somethings—has retained momentum for the segment despite growing warning signs.
Simply put, while energy drinks are the emblematic "functional" beverage because they're an effective delivery system for caffeine, they're hardly what could be called "better-for-you" beverages in the vein of bottled water, enhanced water, juices and other healthful segments that have attracted Coca-Cola lately. But they've maintained their mojo until very recently.
It may be that energy drinks finally are suffering a sales drag from the growing concerns of regulators and nutritionists about their possible role in caffeine poisoning and even the deaths of young energy-drink over-indulgers. Monster and Red Bull have been fighting back by pointing out the warning labels on their products and with other measures. Some analysts speculated that Coca-Cola's experiences with being vilified might help Monster's management handle the recent critiques of energy drinks in a more effective way.
Besides battling back, Monster is introducing a non-caffeinated energy drink called Monster Unleaded to appeal to caffeine-sensitive consumers. The company last year introduced Muscle Monster protein drinks to broaden into the recovery-beverage segment.
No telling whether their new parternship will fully solve the problems and challenges of both Coca-Cola or Monster Beverage, but it'll be interesting to watch them try.


Posted by Dale Buss on August 15, 2014 03:07 PM