G FUEL talks the energy drink market, its loyal fans and growing licensing program.

McKenna Morgan, Content Editor

February 21, 2024

6 Min Read
Pac-Man G Fuel collection.
Pac-Man G Fuel collection.GFuel

According to a report from Mintel, the U.S. energy drink industry is currently valued at $21.1 billion in sales with estimated 2022 figures and is forecast to grow 7.2% to $22.7 billion in 2023. Energy drink sales grew at an estimated inflation-adjusted compound annual growth rate of 8.5% from 2017 to 2022.

The food and beverage category is a valuable part of the licensing industry. The 2022 Licensing International Global Licensing Industry Study says the food and beverage licensing category makes up 6% of licensed consumer product sales. Since 2012, G FUEL has capitalized on the power of energy drink demand and food and beverage licensing. 

G FUEL is an energy drink company that aims to do things a little bit differently. Rather than marketing to athletes, G FUEL decided to lean into the gamer market. Licensing International’s survey values the video games industry as 9% of the licensed consumer product industry.

“We’re all actual gamers,” says Jack LoParco, chief operating officer, president, G FUEL. “It was natural to us to fit a drink that fit our lifestyles, who we are and what we stand for. Red Bull was built for people who were in action sports, and we love gaming and pop culture, so we thought that would be a cool way to do it. Cliff, our founder, when he started the company from an angle of sports nutrition, found that gamers were attracted to the product. So, moving from that to G FUEL was natural, and the team was built around it. If you came to our office, you’d see that everybody is in the communities you see on the cans.

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It was only natural that a company with the power of both the food and beverage and video game sectors would lean into licensing to bring its product line to the next level. Licensing partnerships are what the team does often, creating products for IPs like video game characters, anime series and horror icons. LoParco says G FUEL simply looks to work with the best, regardless of IP size.

“We’re basically the Funko POP! of energy drinks,” says LoParco. “We try to have fun. We look at ourselves as one with the licensing industry because we love to license IPs for our cool drinks. We look at all of our partnerships as equal for different reasons. We have niche ones like ‘The Binding of Isaac’ and stuff that is really indie, really gaming. Then we have the big stuff like horror IPs, ‘Friday the 13th,’ ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and things that are cult classics. Gaming wise, looking for the biggest IP is kind of tough because Megaman, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot are all super huge. We just partner with the best. If it’s iconic, if it’s cool, we really like to make it a part of our brand and make it part of our lifestyle.” 

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IP selection is one thing, but finding the right partners is another.

“It comes down to ‘we’re super easy, we’re super nimble, we’re fun and responsive,’” says LoParco. “There’s not anyone we wouldn’t want to work with, but we want to work with people that have likenesses, so we fit. We really like good partners: people who are easy to work with, people who like to have fun like we do, people who understand Gen Z and millennial culture and want to be part of that. As for what IPs we choose, we see what our fans love, we see what we love and then we delve into that. We are primarily an e-commerce business, so we learn a lot about our customers, become part of their lives and get some really cool feedback. We’re a quasi-influencer through social media since we have a huge following across every platform, so we’re really engaged with the audience. We talk to our fans day in and day out. If we see stuff that they love, then we want to be part of that.” 

As for what IPs and companies are adding to the G FUEL craze in 2024, LoParco teased some upcoming drops and highlighted its latest launches. 

“We just launched our Dragon Ball line,” says LoParco. “We’re going to be going a little bit deeper into anime in Q1. I can’t say specifics on what, but there are IPs that are coming down. Throughout the year, you’ll see constant beats. We’ve got horror beats, a lot more gaming beats, a lot of iconic stuff. Keep a look out because we have a lot of fun coming in 2024. I’ll tease some of the partners: Universal, Warner Bros. We have some cult classics and a lot more niche stuff coming. It’s going to be a very exciting 2024 for the team.” 

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LoParco says that many may believe that an energy drink company, particularly one that advertises to gamers, wouldn’t give its consumers the best quality product. Instead, G FUEL aims to give consumers of multiple age groups fandom, flavor and, of course, fuel. 

“We like to sum it up as, ‘We’re more than just a pretty face,’” says LoParco. “People may see our QR work and assume we must be sugary, but we have good ingredients. We’re healthier than a lot of alternatives that are out there on the market. I think people have been seeing what we’re doing. They like it, and they want to make it to consumables and traditionally, there may be some companies that were afraid of caffeine but have come to understand that there are older demographics that follow these IPs as well.”

Jason McNaughton, director of partnerships, also agrees with LoParco’s summation.

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“There’s a G FUEL for everyone; that’s what we like to say,” says McNaughton. “We internally talk about this all the time. We want to be out there for everyone. We want to create the best product, the best taste, the best engagement in the segment and just constantly be there for our fans and our consumers. We really feel strongly about that, and that’s not going to change. No matter how much bigger we get, no matter how many more partners we get, our customers and our fans come first, and that leads our decision-making. We’re excited about what’s to come.”

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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