Why Canned Energy Drinks Are More Popular Than Bottled Counterparts

When you stop at a convenience store — such as 7-Eleven, Sheetz, or Wawa — to grab a beverage, you quickly notice a curious distinction. For the most part, water, juice, sports drinks, and soda are all packaged in bottles. However, it is extremely rare to find an energy drink that is bottled.

Even though cans are more expensive up front and heavier to transport, there are many reasons why energy drink manufacturers choose cans over bottles. One reason is people prefer cans. A 2021 IPSOS survey discovered that once consumers become aware of the sustainability benefits of a can, "More than 75% of consumers say they would choose the beverage can in preference to other packaging formats" (via PackagingNews). 

On the practical side, cans offer a longer shelf life for energy drinks. The ultraviolet rays in direct sunlight can cause the ingredients in energy drinks to break down. Packaging the beverage in a can keeps the sunlight out and ensures it stays fresh and potent longer.

Energy drinks also come in cans for marketing reasons

Even though consumers prefer the sustainability aspect of cans and energy drinks have a longer shelf life when packaged in cans, there are two other key reasons companies choose not to use bottles.

Since so many beverages are sold in plastic, cans immediately stand out on a shelf. Additionally, many energy drink cans are slimmer or taller, which adds another way to make them quickly identifiable on a crowded shelf. In an article on CNN Business, Duane Stanford, editor of "Beverage Digest," states, "Consumers see slim cans as more sophisticated, which makes them feel more sophisticated." Also, it makes it easier for customers to spend more when the packaging suggests the user is trendy.

The last, but still incredibly important, reason is packaging in cans encourages more frequent consumption. Packaging Digest points out that people prefer cans because they believe the beverage tastes more refreshing, cans are easy to grab, and they have a rugged build. Also, once you open a can, you can't twist the lid back on to maintain the fizz. This means, if you don't finish a can in one sitting, it won't be as palatable the next day. This encourages consumers to go through the product more quickly than they would if it was packaged in bottles.