Energizer’s Bid to Dominate the Rechargeable Batteries Market Continues To Falter

Becoming a leader in the rechargeable batteries market has proven elusive for the disposable battery giant.

When most people think “batteries,” Energizer and Duracell are the two brands that usually make the short list. After all, it was these two battery giants that put consumer batteries on the map, essentially becoming the ubiquitous names for what batteries are to the average consumer. Up until recently, the battle for battery supremacy has been fought between these two companies, with Energizer bunnies and Duracell jingles being hurled about in their advertising campaigns like mortar rounds on a battlefield.

The rise of rechargeable batteries, however, has changed the face of battery warefare.

While Duracell has mostly positioned itself to remain in the domain of disposable alkaline batteries, Energizer has made an aggressive bid to corner the market on rechargeable batteries, launching a new line of Energizer NiMH rechargeable batteries, battery chargers, and an equally robust marketing campaign. And yet, even with all this research, development, and marketing, Energizer hasn’t been able to use its brand to push out the leaders in rechargeable battery technology. What gives?

Why the Best NiMH Rechargeable Batteries Are Not Made By the Big Boys

Strangely enough, it has been Sanyo, the sometimes-awkward electronics manufacturer, who has managed to garner the lion’s share of the rechargeable batteries market. While Sanyo is a Fortune 500 company and a leader in the electronics market, its business model for targeting the “middle” of the consumer electronics market led it to hit bottom in 2005. However, it was the advent of their Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable battery line that resurrected the Sanyo brand (and stock dividend), and in 2009, they were bought out by Panasonic.

All of this has led to the Eneloop brand having the infrastructure needed to crowd Energizer out of the rechargeable batteries market: while Sanyo started from square one in convincing people it could be a leader in rechargeable batteries, Energizer has been unsuccessful in convincing people to start grabbing for their new, green batteries, all while having to make sure that they don’t deep-six their alkaline business in the process.

Because of Sanyo’s improbable rise to become a rechargeable battery leader, it has opened up new opportunities for even smaller rechargeable battery brands, such as Vapex, as well as more novel rechargeable batteries, such as the USB cell. Pound for pound, however, Energizer has failed to energize their own line of NiMH rechargeable batteries.

When Rechargeable Batteries Go Viral

To add insult to injury (or in this case, “industry”), Energizer’s DUO USB battery charger suffered an enormous setback in mid March, when the battery giant admitted that malware had been planted in all of their chargers, leading to countless numbers of PCs to contract a nasty, trojan horse-style virus via the charge monitoring app that accompanied the charger.

Energizer quickly removed the app from the battery charger, but the damage was already done. If nothing else, the incident played further into the belief that, while Energizer knows the disposable battery market well, they continue to miss the mark with new rechargeable battery technology. There are many battery chargers on the market today that utilize USB connectivity to power the charger for mobile recharging when an electrical socket isn’t available. Energizer’s concept, however, was over-reaching: the app — in itself completely unnecessary, since you can monitor the battery charge from the charger itself — was clearly meant to put their brand on the vanguard of rechargeable battery technology. Instead, it led to further skepticism of their rechargeable battery brand.

Rechargeable Battery Confusion

In more recent developments, Energizer has sought to capitalise on the increasing popularity and excitement over Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries. With the new Apple gadgets as well as the Amazon Kindle, the Li-Ion rechargeable batteries are seen to be the emerging new standard in rechargeable batteries. In response to this trend, Energizer has released a wide-ranging line of Advanced Lithium and Ultimate Lithium batteries. Boasting longer battery life and optimal power output for electronic gadgets, Energizer is again pushing hard to advance to the front of the line in high-tech battery technology.

The only hitch is that Energizer’s Lithium batteries are not rechargeable: their Lithium batteries are nothing more than a super-charged version of their standard disposable batteries. Thus, these Lithium batteries in no way speak to the demand for cleaner, more disposable, less toxic battery technology.

Once again, Energizer runs the risk of disillusioning the public with this new line of batteries. The average Joe could very well purchase Energizer Advanced Lithium batteries, thinking that they’ll recharge in his charger. Thus, Energizer runs the risk of their Lithium brand becoming known as a “bait and switch” maneuver.

Energizer can most likely go on being a leader with its alkaline batteries for years to come. However, it is clear that the company is seeking to break free of the disposable battery moniker and become a greener, more 21st century supplier of mobile energy. To this end, Energizer has missed the mark, with larger companies like Sanyo Eneloop and even smaller companies like Vapex rechargeable batteries offering more reliable, affordable mobile power to people who are passionate about their gadgets. If you’re looking to invest in NiMH rechargeable batteries, it’s best to trust the industry leaders and ignore the games that Energizer and Duracell play to endear themselves to the 21st century consumer.

Thanks for reading our article! If you’re ready to purchase some rechargeable batteries, battery chargers, or any other electronics accessory, then visit the Electronics Warehouse website and use promo code EWBLOG at checkout for 10% off your entire order, plus FREE shippingAustralia wide!

3 Responses to “Energizer’s Bid to Dominate the Rechargeable Batteries Market Continues To Falter”

  1. 1 T Jun 18th, 2010 at 4:04 am

    You seem to be related to this unheard of V brand. and obviously have a negative bias to Energizer. In the US, they have since 2003-2007 grown the category and gone from a small market share to the market LEADER. How???? a good brand? a good distribution system? A worldclass set of chargers from Value to mainstream to to Premium? All with excellent cells?

    Give it up!

  2. 2 harry May 15th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    the article might sound like they are trying to sell something however there is a lot of truth in this. at least about eneloop batteries ..

    its hard to beat LiOn batteries for capacity but life is more than just capacity .. the NiMh batteries are a safe formulation, Lithium is not. the eneloop batteries have a very long life and don’t go dead on their own like other type rechargables. in many cases that’s far more important than somewhat greater capacity.

    while the eneloop battery has less capacity than many other NiMh types including energiser, it does have some remarkable qualities that indeed make it a stand out. first it can be recharged many more times than standard cells (thousands). second and most important, it doesn’t go dead after its charged (self discharge). that means you can charge your flash light and expect it to work months later. that by itself revolutionizes the industry.

    they dont have them yet for power tools but how would you like to simply pick up that battery powered drill after a year of sitting in a drawer and have it actually work. that is such an important feature that it simply will have to be done sooner or later.

    to realise the extra capacity of standard NiMh batteries you have to charge them just before use. othwise much of its capacity is lost before you put it to work. so the eneloop, after a few weeks of sitting, actually has more capacity than the higher rated standard cells. and in a few months eneloop is still charged while the standard rechargable is hopelessly dead.

    I for one am very impressed by eneloop batteries. in fact thrilled. now others are making their own versions of “low self discharge” type NiMh batteries. no doubt energiser has or will have their own and its performance likely will be at least on a par with the eneloop. i wont know until i try them but any company would be foolish to ignore this new technology.

    i am just an engineer and have no connection whatsoever with energiser, eneloop or any other battery manufacturer. i do however use a lot of rechargeable batteries and have tested many.

    sanyo has done a remarkable job in making a battery that first, lasts so long that it wont likely end up in the trash for many years. second when it does its all safe materials. you can just toss it. don’t try that with lithium or NiCd batteries.

    my impression of Panasonic is that its a high integrity company (as is sanyo) . my hats off to them for realising the value of eneloop. we can use a lot more companies with high standards. i sure hope they stay that way.

  3. 3 electronicswarehouse May 15th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Harry,
    Thanks for your very insightful comments. I could not agree more about Eneloops and yes many more companies are bringing out their own versions. Vapex Instant, Uniross Hybrio, Duracell PreCharged to name a few.
    But my expectations that Energizer will put out a low self discharge battery on par with Eneloop is a lot lower than yours. I have read a lot of blogs and forums world wide on Energizer rechargeables and have not ever read one good word about them.

    I have a conspiracy theory for this in that Energizer do not want people using rechargeables, because if everyone did they would go out of business. So usually a persons first attempt at using rechargeable is by going with the reputable Energizer brand name and they are then very dissapointed with Energizers rechargeable batteries and go back to using alkalines when in fact there a lot of better brands in rechargeable than Energizer. So I expect that if Energizer do bring out a low self discharge battery that it will be just as bad as the rest of the rechargeables they have come out with.

    Did you also know Harry that Eneloop have a new improved model out. The model will retain 75% capacity after 3 years compared to the old model retaining 85% after 1 year. I would be interested in your thoughts about this if you think this is the way to go? Personally I think they are moving in the wrong direction. Retaining 85% capacity for 1 year is all you need in my opinion. If you are turning over your battery cycle any longer than that the economic savings do not add up. A 4 pack of Energizer alkalines cost around $6 compared to a 4 pack of Eneloop $22. If you are only turning them over once per year it will take nearly 4 years to get your money back.

    I think Vapex are heading in the right direction with their Instant LSD battery. They have 2300 mAh out now and 2500 mAh arring soon compared to Eneloop which are only 2000 mAH. Wouldn’t Eneloop be better off to head in this direction also? I know they have released an Eneloop XXX in Europe that is 2500 mAH but they can only be charged up to 500 times.

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