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Is this the real Monster Energy?

One thing caught my attention on a Tuesday morning is a report by a Shanghai news portal (online.sh.cn) of the launch of a new energy drink at Shanghai’s Chair Club bar. The new energy drink is called 怪兽能量 (Monstroe?) and contains Brazilian guarana and ginseng from Changbai Mountain in North East China. Not sure about the exact spelling though. There is still no official site for the drink and the name on the picture is not clear.
Nonetheless, the name 怪兽能量 looks rather similar to Monster Energy’s Chinese name 怪物能量. The only difference is the second character 兽 vs 物. Using the trusty online Chinese dictionary MDBG, both 怪兽 and 怪物 means monster.
A further search on the name of the company chairman 刘凯胜 Liu Kaisheng has revealed he is the chairman of 华胶饮品(上海)有限公司 Huajiao Drink (Shanghai) Co Ltd, founded in 2013. The company Huajiao has just launched the drinkable E Jiao beverage in Shanghai in March 2014. E jiao (阿胶) is a donkey-hide gelatin, used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat bleeding, dizziness, insomnia and dry cough.

Drinkable E Jiao beverage

So, the so-called Monstroe energy drink looks like a knockoff of the real Monster Energy. Most Chinese consumers will never know the difference as Monster Energy is a rarity in China. It is easier to buy a shirt with the fake Monster Energy label on it than buying the real Monster Energy drink in China. The major B2C sites Alibaba’s Tmall, JD.com and Wal-Mart’s Yihaodian.com do not carry Monster Energy. Below is what you get when you type 怪物能量 on Tmall.com – A cartoon called Killer Energy and a Monster Energy pillow, most probably a fake too.

The company behind Monstroe is clever. It pays to have the first mover advantage in China where the energy drink market is growing at a double-digit rate and is largely dominated by Red Bull. The Red Bull in China is all made by Thailand’s TC Pharmaceutical Industry and not by the Austrian Red Bull GmbH. The Austrian company only recently received approvals from the Chinese government to sell its European-made Red Bull in the country. But it is too late for Austrian Red Bull GmbH as Chinese energy drink consumers are already accustomed to the Thai version, which has been around since 1995.

For Monster Energy, it is never too late to enter China now. The first thing to do is to secure your brand.


The Chinese name for Monster Energy is Monster Claw (鬼爪).


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