Sixty million Americans drink caffeine every morning. But according to PepsiCo, “only” 20 million consume energy drinks during this time. And to capture a larger piece of the a.m. market, the company is launching a new energy drink made specifically for mornings: Mtn Dew Rise.
A year in development, Mtn Dew Rise is basically Mountain Dew that’s adulting. It’s available for $2.59 a can in the flavors Pomegranate Blue Burst, Orange Breeze, Strawberry Melon Spark, Tropical Sunrise, Berry Blitz, and Peach Mango Dawn. At 25 calories, it has 180 milligrams of caffeine—the same as two cups of coffee—and it’s loaded with supplements that are meant to be tempting in an era when we’re all concerned about our health. Zinc plus vitamins A and C promise to assist with immune response. Rise is also the first energy drink with citicoline, a supplement sometimes prescribed to people with Alzheimer’s disease that might help with mental clarity.
“What do we want the brand to represent?” asks Leon Imas, VP of beverage design and experience at PepsiCo beverages North America. “Power, intuition, strength. A guardian and protector. But ultimately, a disruptor and leader, the person first to the waves, to the court, to the office. Someone who isn’t waiting, but will get up and Rise [rather than] hit the snooze.”
I take a swig of Mtn Dew Rise—Strawberry Melon Spark flavor—one afternoon as Imas explains this over Zoom. For a moment, the speech about rising to the challenges of life is actually a little inspiring. Then I remember that I’m wearing sweatpants to work and I worry that PepsiCo may have overestimated my ambition.
Mtn Dew Rise is born of a simple market reality. Soda sales are down, but energy drinks have celebrated steady growth for more than a decade. Today, Red Bull and Monster Energy (the latter of which is owned by Coca-Cola) make up roughly 60% of the energy drink market. Meanwhile, PepsiCo owns Rockstar, distributes the rapidly growing VPX Bang, and has launched BOLT24, a Gatorade-branded energy drink; but the company has yet to invent anything to challenge the two dominant players in the market.
PepsiCo’s strategy with Mtn Dew Rise is not to beat Red Bull and Monster at their own game, but to expand the very definition of the energy drink.