Red Bull is to take on Coca-Cola's Relentless in a bid to seize control of the emerging energy shot market.

Red Bull's debut in the category underscores the brand's move to refocus on its core energy drink market following last year's launch of Red Bull Cola, which the company now acknowledges failed to make a meaningful impact in the cola category.

Red Bull said it expected to immediately challenge the market position of Relentless, which along with Lucozade launched into the energy shot market this summer.

Despite its late arrival into shots, Red Bull head of off-trade Matt Hollier said he was confident of repeating the success of its super-size can, which overtook Monster and Relentless within four months of its entry to the market.

"We are the most recognised energy brand in the world, and this will be one of the most distinct energy products on the market," he said.

Available in standard and sugar-free variants, the 60ml Red Bull Energy Shots cost £1.79 and contain the same amount of energy as a 250ml can, are non-carbonated and do not require chilling.

"There are still lots of people who don't engage with energy drinks at all for various reasons, whether it's formulation or the amount of liquid," Hollier said. "There are also customers who will go into a store and not go near the soft drinks chiller. But with this being ambient, it gives another opportunity for customers to pick it up and work out for themselves exactly what it is."

Hollier also admitted last year's Cola launch had fallen below expectations as consumers struggled to grasp the concept of a Red Bull cola. Sales in its first four months were £2.2m, reaching £3.8m in the year to September [Nielsen].

"We're so overtly linked with energy that consumer understanding of a cola that's not got energy credentials has been a challenge," Hollier said.

However, he insisted that Red Bull remained "currently committed" to the product.