Coca-Cola will launch its first energy drink in the UK under the Coca-Cola brand in a move that will put it in direct competition with market leaders Red Bull and Lucozade, as well as Monster, in which Coca-Cola has a minority stake.

Coca-Cola Great Britain announced the launch of Coca-Cola Energy in a statement last week, explaining that it will be available from late April, come in 250ml cans and will have two variants – with and without sugar.

The new drink combines caffeine from naturally derived sources, guarana extracts and B vitamins and is aimed at younger consumers aged 18 to 35, who will be the focus of an integrated marketing campaign.

“Our strategy is to offer people a wide range of drinks to meet different lifestyles and occasions, and Coca-Cola Energy is the latest example of that,” said Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland.

“We’re launching Coca-Cola Energy with and without sugar and we’ll continue to expand and diversify our range of products to offer British consumers a wider choice of drinks.”

Diversification and branching out from its core offering of carbonated drinks is an important part of Coca-Cola’s strategic ambition to become a “total beverage company”.

“We are always looking for ways to expand our products and bring people the drinks they want. And, energy is one of the fastest-growing categories in our industry,” said Javier Meza, the company’s global CMO of sparkling beverages, in a blog post.

“The launch of Coca-Cola Energy is in line with our work to diversify our legacy brands. This includes drinks such as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee, Coca-Cola Original Taste-Less Sugar and the relaunch of Diet Coke in four new flavours,” he added.

Meza also revealed that the new energy drink will launch in Spain and Hungary in early April and that other international markets will follow throughout 2019 and 2020.

According to specialist publisher FoodBev Media, Coca-Cola’s move into a new category like energy drinks is an “important milestone”, but noted it is “contentious” because Monster claims it would make Coca-Cola Energy a direct competitor and violate their 2015 agreement when Coca-Cola first invested in the business.

Sourced from Coca-Cola, FoodBev Media; additional content by WARC staff