Food & Beverage



Rethinking energy drinks in Asia Pacific
The Challenge
Help us develop a pipeline of energy drinks that are aligned with the changing energy needs of white collar professionals in Asia Pacific.
Project Highlight
“I love working with Propellerfish. They “get” the brief, understand the diversity and complexity in our markets and consumers and help us to develop some really great innovation.. Plus they’re a bunch of nice people too!” Innovation Director, PepsiCo
Energy drinks have traditionally been a working class fuel in Southeast Asia, but as the children of the working class transition into more white collar office work, there is a need to evolve the energy drink category to suit a new context. PepsiCo partnered with Propellerfish to understand the changing nature of energy in Asia Pacific and develop a pipeline of new products to evolve Sting’s portfolio.

We designed the project with a launch in mind and worked backwards from that outcome as our priority. That meant ensuring every stakeholder, influencer and decision maker was engaged in the project early and often. We made that easier by turning a villa near PepsiCo’s regional office into a temporary studio dedicated to Sting innovation. This dedicated space put global teams, regional teams and local market stakeholders in close proximity, designing a solution in the heart of one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant cities.

To create successful products for Sting, we needed to understand how energy needs were evolving with the population of the region. Our team went out into the world and spent time with professionals on the ground in Manila and Bangkok. We spent time in their homes, at their places of work, and out with their friends to understand their changing energy needs. Along the way, we spent time with a nice mix of young white collar professionals ranging from administrative assistants in Bangkok to overnight workers at business process outsourcing centres in Manila. We kept our conversations with them going throughout the project via mobile consumer groups so their perspectives were never more than a WhatsApp or Line message away.

We also engaged a mix of experts to help us shape our insights and concepts. These ranged from monks to yoga instructors, Chinese medicine doctors to local artists and entrepreneurs. These experts spent came and went regularly at our studio shaping our thinking throughout the project. They  helped focus the team’s vocabulary around energy, refine bottle shapes that were more aligned with what energy means to a more white collar consumer and curate ingredient stories that deliver energy from a less industrialised place.


Sting Espresso launched in 2019.

At the end of the day, innovation is only real if it launches. As usual, R&D and local commercial teams were the heroes in making innovation happen on this project. These individuals kept our products focused on what the PepsiCo system can reasonably deliver and on innovation we knew would be commercially attractive to both local bottlers and PepsiCo. Sting Espresso launched early this year and is already delivering incremental growth for PepsiCo in one of the world’s most dynamic economies.